At Flemington in Melbourne, imported UK-bred 7YO gelding Redkirk Warrior (Notnowcato-Flag, by Selkirk) continued his freakishly strong form down the famous Flemington "straight six" for Hayes, Hayes & Dabernig in winning the $1.25 million Gr1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) for the second year in succession, defeating Brave Smash and Merchant Navy. Leading the outside division for the entire race, against his normal swooping pattern, Redkirk Warrior displayed both diversity and courage to become the first horse since Razor Sharp in 1982/83 to achieve the rare back-to-back result. Correct (60/61), Gothic (27/28) and Aspen (1880/81) are the only other sprinters in the history of the Newmarket to do this. Redkirk Warrior was a £22,000 yearling from the draft of Manor House Stud at the 2012 Tattersalls October Yearling Sale (Book 2). His record now stands at 8 wins (including the Gr3 Sundown Stakes, Gr1 Newmarket Handicap & Gr1 Lightning Stakes) & 2 placings (including the Listed Hong Kong Classic Cup) from 17 starts for $2,911,080. It's now likely that Redkirk Warrior will represent Australia at Royal Ascot, most likely via Hong Kong, reports racing.com. Co-trainer Ben Hayes noted: "Talking to the owners, I think they're pretty keen to go travelling. He seems to have pulled up well this morning...and why not? He's done two amazing runs, and I think we can freshen him up and take him overseas now." Hayes added: "There's no [specific] plans set in stone yet. We'll have a big talk on Monday about it. We can go via Hong Kong and then onto England, or we can really freshen him and run him at Royal Ascot."
Meanwhile, should Merchant Navy run up to expectations second-up and take out the Gr1 Newmarket Handicap down the Flemington straight-six on Saturday, his passport is all but confirmed for a trip to June's Royal Ascot Meeting, reports racing.com. With his entire preparation fashioned around Saturday's time-honoured event, and a dual hemisphere stallion deal with Coolmore on the table, there's a lot on the line for the talented son of Fastnet Rock. If the pre-race cartography pans out, the Newmarket will be the stepping stone to the Gr1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes on the final day of the Royal meeting. Trainer Aaron Purcell confirmed Ascot plans after the colt's last serious gallop before Saturday, acknowledging, "If he wins or runs well, I'm sure the Ascot trip will be spoken about and it's definitely on the cards. I think he's spot on. He galloped this morning at Sandown and it's probably the best he's galloped this preparation. He looks terrific and his weight's great." Purcell added, "We've had a month between runs to tighten him up again. He's had a few strong gallops and each one has got better and better and this morning was his best gallop. The 1100 metres [of the Rubiton] was shorter than his best distance. He's obviously a very fast horse but he builds into his races and they went a bit slow early. His closing sectionals were great. I think the 1200 at Flemington in a very strongly-run race, he'll be very powerful to the line."
At Caulfield in Melbourne, Woodside Park's Gr2-winning stallion Written Tycoon (Iglesias-Party Miss, by Kenmare) added a Group race success when 5YO Australian-bred mare Super Cash (Written Tycoon-Super Bucks, by Dash for Cash) resumed with a successful defence of her title in the $200,000 Gr2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m) for 3YO+, defeating Flamberge & Merchant Navy. In registering the fourth stakes win of his career, Super Cash improved her record to 6 wins (including the Gr2 Schillaci Stakes, Gr2 Rubiton Stakes & Listed Goodwood Racecourse Trophy) and 5 placings (including the Gr3 MRC Kevin Heffernan Stakes & Gr3 MVRC Typhoon Tracy Stakes) from 20 starts for $797,250 in earnings. Trainer Andrew Noblet said Super Cash would now be given a short break ahead of the $1 million Gr1 Robert Sangster Stakes (1200m) in Adelaide in May. "Considering her fresh form, I think we'll give her a little freshen up again and get her ready for the Group 1 in Adelaide," Noblet told racing.com.
Top 3YO sprinter Merchant Navy (Fastnet Rock-Legally Bay, by Snippets) could make his seasonal return in Saturday's Gr2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield. A brilliant winner of the stallion-making Gr1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) in the spring, Merchant Navy is entered in all the major autumn sprints including the Gr1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m) and Gr1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington. "He will be nominated for the Rubiton," trainer Aaron Purcell told ANZ Bloodstock News. "We'll just see how the race looks and then discuss it with the owners probably. If we run in the Rubiton or wait a week and run in the Lightning. We'll just try to figure out which race is going to bring him on for the Newmarket better."
TAB have opened defending champion Redzel as $8 favourite for the 2018 The Everest (1200m) to be run at Royal Randwick on 13 October, reports racingnsw.com.au. Prize money for next year's Everest, now the richest turf race in the world, will jump from $10 million to $13 million. The Peter & Paul Snowden-trained Redzel has established himself as the pre-eminent sprinter in Australia stringing together six consecutive wins since April, including Gr1 victories in the Darley Classic and Doomben 10,000.
TAB Everest Market
$8 - Redzel
$11 - Chautauqua, Vega Magic
$15 - Menari, Merchant Navy, Winx
$26 - Brave Smash, Clearly Innocent, English, In Her Time, Invincible Star, She Will Reign
$51 - Deploy, Hey Doc, Houtzen, Impending, Nature Strip, Performer, Redkirk Warrior, Terravista, Trapeze Artist, Tulip, Viddora
$101 - Ball of Muscle, Fell Swoop, Formality, Malaguerra, Rock Magic, Sheidel, Spieth
At Flemington in Melbourne, Coolmore's former Gr1-winning Champion Australian Sire Fastnet Rock (Danehill-Piccadilly Circus, by Royal Academy) celebrated an elite race success when 3YO bay colt Merchant Navy (Fastnet Rock-Legally Bay, by Snippets) flashed home along the fence to score a thrilling last stride victory in the $1 million Gr1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) for 3YOs, defeating Invincible Star & Formality. Purchased for $350,000 by Ciaron Maher Racing at the 2016 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale from the draft of Segenhoe Stud, Merchant Navy advanced his impressive record to 5 wins (including the Gr3 H.D.F. McNeil Stakes & Listed Anzac Day Stakes) from 6 starts for $809,450 in earnings. The prestigious Coolmore Stud Stakes boasts a reputation as a stallion-making race, meaning the well-bred Merchant Navy is now one of the most valuable stud prospects in the country. By Fastnet Rock out of Gr3 Sweet Embrace Stakes winner Legally Bay, Merchant Navy is a full-brother to Gr2 ATC Roman Consul Stakes winner Jolie Bay. Legally Bay herself is a half-sister to Gr1 Myer Classic winner Bonaria. "It's a stallion-making race and he's a well-bred Fastnet Rock colt and he's done the job in great style," trainer Aaron Purcell told racing.com.
The final field has been declared and the barrier draw conducted for the Gr1 Golden Rose (1400m) for 3YOs to be run at Rosehill Gardens this Saturday, 23 September. Fourteen 3YOs will contest the $1 million feature headed by star colt Menari who has drawn awkwardly in barrier 11. Despite the wide gate, the Gerald Ryan-trained colt remains the dominant $2 TAB favourite for the race off the back of two brilliant wins in the Gr2 The Run To The Rose (1200m) and Listed Rosebud (1100m). Menari's biggest market dangers, Pariah ($6.50) and boom Victorian colt Merchant Navy ($8), had mixed fortunes drawing barriers 12 and 2 respectively. See the Golden Rose field below.
A fortnight ago at Pakenham, a 3YO colt turned many a head with a facile 2.25-lengths maiden win over 1000m where he finished with a wet sail. Trainer Robert Smerdon has wasted no time in getting Superhard to the city, with the All Too Hard son immediately tackling a much tougher assignment in today's opening race at Sandown over the same distance. At face value he looks like he's going to appreciate a step up in trip, so the question is how he'll fare over the 1000m against the likes of Written Choice who was very impressive over this course and distance when winning on debut. Waiting in the wings should either falter are Wait For No One from the in-form Team Hayes & Dabernig stable, and Fully Maxed who ran a bottler behind Jukebox in the Vain Stakes. And then there's Bel Sonic, whose formlines from just two starts are ominous. Winning second-up at Geelong over 1100m when a short-priced favourite, he was beaten less than two lengths at Pakenham over 1200m on debut by last start Gr3 winner Merchant Navy, who'd start deep in the red if he was running here.
At Caulfield in Melbourne, Coolmore's former Gr1-winning Champion Australian Sire Fastnet Rock (Danehill-Piccadilly Circus, by Royal Academy) added yet another stakes win to his incredible CV when 3YO colt Merchant Navy (Fastnet Rock-Legally Bay, by Snippets) claimed his second black type success and retained his unbeaten record in capturing the $150,750 Gr3 H.D.F. McNeil Stakes (1200m) for 3YOs, defeating Booker & Muraahib. Purchased for $350,000 by Ciaron Maher Racing at the 2016 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale from the draft of Segenhoe Stud, Merchant Navy is now 4 from 4 on the win tally (including the Listed Anzac Day Stakes) with $196,500 in earnings. From the Gr3 Sweet Embrace Stakes winner Legally Bay, Merchant Navy is a full-brother to Gr2 ATC Roman Consul Stakes winner Jolie Bay. Legally Bay herself is a half-sister to Gr1 Myer Classic winner Bonaria. An obviously chuffed Ciaron Maher commented to racing.com post-race, "[Merchant Navy] was very relaxed pre-race and I thought that was a great sign for the future as he was a pretty raw colt." He will now likely head to Rosehill Gardens for what is shaping up to be a magnificent Gr1 Golden Rose on September 23.
Boom Victorian colt Merchant Navy (Fastnet Rock-Legally Bay, by Snippets) will be out to preserve his perfect record when he resumes in the Gr3 H.D.F. McNeil Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on Saturday. The Ciaron Maher-trained 3YO extended his unbeaten record to three when closing out his juvenile season with a maiden stakes win in the Listed Anzac Day Stakes (1400m) at Flemington in April. Maher, who describes Merchant Navy as a "Caulfield Guineas type", said he had returned a physically stronger horse after his break. "Hopefully he can win that first-up," Maher told racenet. "He's prepped up well and he's developed since his two-year-old year and he's got a great record. And the race is in his backyard." Maher added: "He's got a great set of lungs so I wouldn't mind a bit of give in the track and if there was showers around for the rest of the week, then it would be fine."
Coolmore look resigned to being without top-class colt Caravaggio in the inaugural $10 million The Everest (1200m) at Royal Randwick on 14 October. The dual Gr1 winning sprinter was expected to represent slot holder Coolmore in what will be the world’ richest turf race, but his disappointing performance when sixth in the Gr1 Prix Maurice de Gheest has forced a rethink. “He came out of the race in France a bit flat and a bit sore, so he is going to need some time off, so he looks less likely than likely at this stage that he will be coming for The Everest,” Coolmore Australia’s sales, marketing and racing manager Sebastian Hutch told ANZ Bloodstock News. “It is disappointing because he is obviously an exceptional horse and he looked to have the perfect credentials to be competitive in the race. That is horse racing, you accept the highs with the lows, and we will see what the next six weeks brings and then make a decision.” Coolmore will instead monitor the progress of some its 3YOs which it has an interest in, including unbeaten colt Merchant Navy, Golden Slipper placegetter Tulip, and Blue Diamond Stakes placegetter Formality.
Trainer Ciaron Maher has confirmed that unbeaten Victorian colt Merchant Navy will be aimed at the $1 million Gr1 Golden Rose (1400m) in Sydney in the spring, reports Racing And Sports. Merchant Navy (Fastnet Rock-Legally Bay, by Snippets) extended his perfect record to 3 wins from as many starts when opening his stakes account in the Listed Anzac Day Stakes (1400m) at Flemington in April. Maher plans on giving the son of Fastnet Rock a lead-up run in either the Gr3 McNeil Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on 27 August, or the G2 Run To The Rose (1200m) at Rosehill on 9 September. The Golden Rose will be run at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday, 23 September.
At Flemington in Melbourne, Coolmore's former Gr1-winning Champion Australian Sire Fastnet Rock (Danehill-Piccadilly Circus, by Royal Academy) sired his 114th stakes winner when 2YO colt Merchant Navy (Fastnet Rock-Legally Bay, by Snippets) claimed his maiden stakes victory in the $120,000 Listed Anzac Day Stakes (1400m) for 2YOs, defeating Casino Fourteen & Speed Street. Purchased for $350,000 by Ciaron Maher Racing at the 2016 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale from the draft of Segenhoe Stud, Merchant Navy extended his unbeaten record to 3 wins from 3 starts for $105,000 in earnings. From the Gr3 Sweet Embrace Stakes winner Legally Bay, Merchant Navy is a full-brother to Gr2 ATC Roman Consul Stakes winner Jolie Bay. Legally Bay herself is a half-sister to Gr1 Myer Classic winner Bonaria. "To get a stakes win for a Fastnet Rock colt like him is great," trainer Ciaron Maher told racing.com. "He's definitely on the right path. He's improved every time he's gone to the races and he's a very exciting colt."