Long days and travelling have been taking a toll on Aaron Purcell but the trainer is relishing his new role.
Purcell took over the suspended Ciaron Maher’s stable on the eve of the spring carnival and landed his first Group One winner when Aloisia took out the Thousand Guineas last month.
He has been spending the majority of his time at Maher’s Caulfield stables while also heading back home to Warrnambool to visit his family and checking on his own horses when he can.
So far, Purcell has saddled only three Group One runners but that will double at Flemington on Saturday when Jukebox and Merchant Navy contest the Coolmore Stud Stakes and Ocean’s Fourteen the Victoria Derby.
He says his Coolmore runners are two completely different types with Jukebox a fast horse who likes to get everything over and done with as quickly as possible while Merchant Navy is the opposite, relaxed and easy going around the stable.
Purcell said Jukebox would be ridden with cover so he will settle on Saturday while Merchant Navy will be making a late charge.
“With a big field there’ll be good speed and Merchant Navy will definitely be one that will be strong late,” Purcell said.
He said the team had been tossing up whether to head to Saturday’s race or the Caulfield Guineas with Merchant Navy after he finished 10th in the Golden Rose (1400m) at Rosehill in September.
He said Merchant Navy had freshened up while he was told by stable staff the trip to Sydney had improved his appearance and toughened him up mentally.
Jukebox was beaten in a gallop at Sandown on Tuesday, but Purcell said nothing should be read into that.
“The horse that beat him was Bons Away,” Purcell said.
“He hasn’t been beaten in a gallop since I’ve been at Caulfield.”
Bons Away runs in the final race on Saturday, the TAB Multiplier Stakes.
Derby runner Ocean’s Fourteen has had two starts for Purcell for a win in a Donald maiden over 1620 metres on October 13 and a close second to Weather With You in last week’s Geelong Classic (2200m).