The Coolmore Stud Stakes odds for smart three year old Merchant Navy have been halved since the final field was released on Wednesday.
The Aaron Purcell trained Merchant Navy opened up at $26 for today’s Group 1 $1m Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington but on race morning bookies at Ladbrokes.com.au has shortened him up to $13.
Merchant Navy was the winner of his first four race starts but then suffered his first defeat when tenth to Trapeze Artist in the Group 1 $1m De Bortoli Wines Golden Rose (1400m) at Rosehill on September 23.
Purcell has freshened up the Fastnet Rock colt after he had no luck in the Golden Rose and expects him to be back to his best today.
“Merchant Navy had no luck at his last start in Sydney. He’s been freshened up from that effort. He will be hitting the line hard,” Purcell told The Standard.
“The Coolmore is a stallion-making race.”
Mark Zahra will stick with Merchant Navy who has drawn barrier fifteen for the dash down the Flemington straight while his stablemate Jukebox has drawn at the opposition side of the track at gate three.
Craig Williams rides Jukebox who has had one go down the Flemington straight for a second to Coolmore Stud Stakes rival Catchy in the Group 2 $200,000 Danehill Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on September 16.
Jukebox has had one run since for a second to Catchy’s stablemate and today’s rival Formality in the Group 3 $350,000 Catanach’s Jewellers Blue Sapphire Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on October 18.
“Jukebox has a second placing in the Danehill up the Flemington straight, which is a real bonus. I think both horses should run well in a very tough even race,” Purcell said.
In a very wide open betting race at Ladbrokes.com.au, the Lindsay Park trained filly Catchy is the $7 favourite for the Coolmore Stud Stakes just ahead of Invincible Star at $8, Viridine at $8.50 and Trapeze Artist at $9.