Aaron Purcell is confident Merchant Navy is in for another successful campaign after the Group One-winning colt impressed in his first serious piece of work of the preparation in a jump-out at Caulfield.
Merchant Navy was one of a number of carnival contenders based at Caulfield to contest jump-outs on Tuesday morning, including his Guineas-winning stablemates Aloisia and Villermont.
The brilliant winner of the Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington in early November, Merchant Navy won his 800m heat.
“Everything he has done this time in has been really good,” Purcell said.
“This morning was his first strong piece of work and he went terrific, so we’re definitely looking forward to his autumn campaign.”
Purcell said the stable had been confident Merchant Navy would be able to come back well given the way he spelled.
“And on his jump-out this morning it definitely made us feel really confident that we’re going to have a good autumn,” he said.
The Group One Newmarket Handicap (1200m) in March is Merchant Navy’s goal, before a possible Royal Ascot bid later in the year.
“Whichever suits his campaign better, that’s the way we’ll go,” Purcell said.
Aloisia’s star-studded seven-horse heat was won by the Mick Price-trained colt Androssan and also included of Snitty Kitty, Caulfield Guineas winner Mighty Boss and Sandown Guineas winner Villermont.
“Aloisia had quite an easy trial,” Purcell said.
“She cruised along in her own time and closed the trial off really well and pulled up really well. Her piece of work was exactly what we wanted to see.”
Villermont is also being aimed at the Australian Guineas second-up.
“He just went through his gears without being rushed,” Purcell said.
“He was quite strong through the line and pulled up really well.
“He seems to have grown a bit and come back a bit bigger and stronger so I’m definitely looking forward to him getting back to the races.”