Merchant Navy set for strong autumn

05 February 2018 06:11:21 EST

Merchant Navy will be aimed at the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap in the autumn but connections have yet to decide on which path he will take to get there.

The exciting colt was a brilliant winner of the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes in November and hopes are high for a strong autumn campaign.

Trainer Aaron Purcell has confirmed the sprinter would be nominated for Saturday's Group 2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield but connections would also enter him for the Lightning Stakes (1000m) down the Flemington straight on Saturday week. Merchant Navy is 5/1 to win the Newmarket Handicap.

Purcell said Merchant Navy winning the Rubiton Stakes would do little for his stud value but the Newmarket Handicap was the priority ahead of the Lightning Stakes in the horse's autumn campaign.

"We'll just see how the race looks and then discuss it with the owners probably on Monday afternoon, if we run in the Rubiton or wait a week and run in the Lightning," Purcell said.

"We'll just try to figure out which race is going to bring him on for the Newmarket better. Obviously winning would be ideal, but we'll try to work out what's best for his future as well.

"It a case of an 1100m with four weeks (into the Newmarket) or a 1000m run with three weeks into it.

"We'll try and win the Newmarket and if we do that, then we can go to Ascot but if we don't, we might have to come up with a different plan."

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