Northern test for Hard Merchandize
A trials win at Foxton last week has Gr.2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m) winner Hard Merchandize on target for a northern test next month.
Freshened since finishing a game third behind Sumstreetsumwhere in the Gr.2 James & Annie Sarten Memorial Stakes (1400m) at Te Rapa, Hard Merchandize contested an open 1000m Foxton trial and with Dylan Turner in the saddle he scored a long neck win.
Photo: Race Images Palmerston North
“It was a nice trial, a run just to keep him ticking over,” his Awapuni trainer Gary Vile said. “He had a week in the paddock after the Sarten Memorial and needed a nice hit-out.
“The plan is to take him north next start for the Bonecrusher Stakes at Ellerslie to give him a look right-handed. He’s had no problem working right-handed but I just want him to have that raceday experience.”
The Gr.3 Hynds Holding Ltd Bonecrusher Stakes (1400m) is on Saturday week and Vile feels the timing is right for Hard Merchandize.
“The main aim is the $1 million Karaka three-year-old race in January and I’m just working out a path to get there,” Vile said.
“I’m thinking of maybe running him in the Kamada Park Stakes here (at Awapuni) as a lead-up. It’s weight-for-age and he’ll get in on 53kg. It could be a nice race for him if he’s going well.”
The Gr.2 Kamada Park Manawatu Challenge Stakes (1400m) is on December 23 so Hard Merchandize still has just over a month before his Karaka Million 3YO Classic goal on January 27.
Vile has always had a high opinion of Hard Merchandize and punters got to finally realise his talent when he led throughout to beat some class three-year-olds in the Hawke’s Bay Guineas last month.
He then backed up that form with a courageous run for third in the Sarten Memorial after being checked early in the run home.
“It was only two or three months ago that if he got a knock like that on the turn he wouldn’t have handled it, but he can take it now,” Vile said. “That’s how much he’s improved.
“He had two hard runs, in the Hawke’s Bay Guineas and the Sarten Memorial, so he needed the week off. It’s freshened him right up.”
Vile also won an open 1200m trial at Foxton last Tuesday with his promising stayer Rock On, winner of the Listed Lincoln Farms NZ St Leger (2500m) at Trentham last March.
Rock On was sent to John Sargent’s stable in Sydney after his St Leger win and ran third to Big Duke first-up in the Gr.2 Chairmans Handicap (2600m) at Randwick then headed down to Melbourne, where he finished third over 2500m at Flemington.
He has had four starts since rejoining Vile’s stable with his most recent outing resulting in a seventh behind Maygrove in the Listed Ricoh Feilding Gold Cup (2100m) at Awapuni.
“He didn’t get round the short course here at Palmy. It suits more on-pace runners since they put the new corner in,” Vile said. “For that reason I’m going to bypass the Manawatu Cup and instead he can head up to Te Rapa for the Waikato Cup. The roomy Te Rapa track will suit him better.”
Rock On, a five-year-old son of Road To Rock, holds nominations for the Gr.3 Wallaceville Estate Wellington Cup (3200m) at Trentham on January 20 and the Gr.1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m) at Ellerslie on March 10. – NZ Racing Desk