Hard Merchandize upsets in Hawke’s Bay Guineas
Awapuni three-year-old Hard Merchandize upset the applecart when he led all the way to take out the Gr. 2 Sacred Falls Hawke’s Bay Guineas.
The winner of the Listed Castletown Stakes as a two-year-old, Hard Merchandize was overlooked by punters as their pre-race attention centred on four well supported runners from the Tony Pike stable, including Haussmann who was installed as a warm favourite.
|Hard Merchandize (one off rail in Orange cap) Photo: Trish Dunell Photography|
Relishing the softer underfoot conditions, Hard Merchandize sprang straight to the lead to dictate a muddling tempo during the early stages of the event. Rider Cameron Lammas stacked the field up approaching the home bend before asking the Gary Vile trained runner to sprint hard as they straightened. The response was immediate as the Burgundy gelding snuck a small break on his immediate chasers which were headed by Jimmy Lincoln, Bostonian and Griffin, who had stalked him through-out.
It soon became apparent these four had the race to themselves with the backmarkers, including the Pike trio of Haussmann, Felton Road and Aim Smart, making no impression on them. Hard Merchandize fought for all he was worth as he repelled a late lunge from the previously unbeaten Bostonian to hold the barest of winning margins at the line, with Jimmy Lincoln just a breath away in third.
Lammas, who had enjoyed success as the regular rider of the Vile trained Auckland Cup placegetter Jacksstar, admitted he was quietly confident before the race.
“I was very confident he was going to go a good race as he won the Castletown Stakes as a two-year-old,” he said.
“He’s got gate speed, he got a nice soft lead and kept fighting nicely.
“I rode a good horse for GV in Jacksstar and I had told him he had to find me another one, so I think I’ve found him.”
Vile was full of positives for the effort of his charge who had finished an unlucky fourth in his first run of this campaign.
“We had a small girth on him last time and he went to buck so the boy did well to stay on him,” he commented in reference to the first-up performance.
“We had to do something today from a horror draw so I said to Cameron to ride him where he lands.
“He went to the front and dictated and he’s just a gutsy little horse.”
Although playing his cards close to his chest Vile advised it was unlikely his charge would be seen in the Gr. 1 Al Basti Equiworld 2000 Guineas at Riccarton next month, preferring to seek a richer target early next year.
“He’s a Karaka Millions horse so that’s where he will be heading,” he said.
“We’ll see how it pans out but I think he is a better horse with some cut in the ground.”
Vile was referring to the Listed Karaka Millions 3YO Classic that will be run at Ellerslie on Saturday 27 January, a race that will carry a $1million prize pool for the first time in 2018. – NZ Racing Desk