BOOM colt Merchant Navy is on track to give Aaron Purcell his third group one winner when the three-year-old runs in the $1.25 million Newmarket Handicap at Flemington on Saturday.
Merchant Navy returns to the scene of his first group one victory – down the famous Flemington straight tackling 14 rivals in the Newmarket. He won the group one Coolmore Classic over 1200 metres last November.
Purcell, who will hand over training duties of Merchant Navy back to Ciaron Maher next month, said the colt worked impressively at Sandown on Tuesday morning.
“Merchant Navy is an exciting colt,” he said. “We gave Merchant Navy his final work out for the Newmarket over 1000 metres. I thought it was impressive work at Sandown.
“His first-up run in the Rubiton Stakes was strong. He returned good sectional times and has improved since then. The Newmarket was always going to be his grand final in the autumn.”
Aloisia is Purcell’s other group one winner. Maher returns to training after a six-month suspension on April 3.
Japanese-bred stallion Brave Smash leads the charge for Darren Weir’s Warrnambool’s satellite stable in the Newmarket. Ken’s Dream, also from Warrnambool, is his other runner in the sprint up the straight while stablemate Gailo Chop is one of the favourites for the $1.5 million Australian Cup.
Honest mare Royal Applause runs in a $150,000 race for Symon Wilde on the big nine-race program.