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Caulfield’s Aaron Purcell is considering a Group 1 bid first-up for his gun colt Merchant Navy in the Black Caviar Lightning 2018 following a smart jump-out on Tuesday morning.
The three-year-old son of Fastnet Rock caught the eye in his 800m Caulfield heat at home, working from a mid-field position to salute by a length ahead of his six trial rivals.
Jockey Mark Zahra rode Merchant Navy in the hit-out and was also aboard for the galloper’s last start win in the Group 1 $1 million Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) down the Flemington straight back on VRC Derby Day last November.
“This morning was his first solid hit-out and he went terrific,” Purcell told Racing Victoria.
“He’s a horse that is very casual around home and when you don’t ask much of him, he doesn’t deliver much.”
Purcell is now looking at a return to Flemington Racecourse for Merchant Navy in the Group 1 $750,000 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) on February 17 where his rivals would include Blue Diamond winning filly Catchy, last start Manikato Stakes champ Hey Doc and The Everest – Darley Classic winner Redzel.
If not the Black Caviar Lightning, Merchant Navy could kick off his autumn a week earlier at Caulfield in the Group 2 $200,000 Schweppes Rubiton Stakes (1100m).
Plans are then to head to Flemington’s ‘Super Saturday’ on March 10 in the Group 1 $1.25 million Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m).
“Being a colt, our job is to make him a more valuable colt so the Newmarket will be his main aim this autumn,” Purcell confirmed.
“He’ll probably go there second-up and we’ll either go to the Rubiton or the Lightning first-up.”
Peter & Paul Snowden are likely to saddle-up the top two fancies in Black Caviar Lightning betting this season with Redzel to be joined in the line-up by The Galaxy winning Snitzel entire Russian Revolution.
Redzel also holds narrow favouritism in futures Newmarket Handicap 2018 odds ahead of Merchant Navy, both proven Group 1 winners over the 1200m at Flemington from the spring.
There is chance that, all going exceedingly well, Merchant Navy could be England-bound during our winter for a possible Royal Ascot bid targeting the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (1200m).
The 2018 Diamond Jubilee Stakes runs on June 24 and is the sprint classic Australia’s former champion racehorse Black Caviar narrowly won in her international debut in 2012.
To get behind Merchant Navy over the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival at the right price head to our preferred online sportsbook Ladbrokes.com.au.
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