Hard Merchandize will head north to Te Rapa early in the new season in a bid to double his Group Two winning tally.
“He’s back in the stable and not far off having a gallop,” trainer Gary Vile said. “We’ll keep him ticking over and head toward the Foxbridge Plate.”
Winner of the Listed Castletown Stakes (1200m) at two, Hard Merchandize returned this season to win the Gr.2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m) and finished third in the Gr.2 Sarten Memorial (1400m).
The son of Burgundy was sent for a spell after a respectable seventh in the Listed Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m).
“He hasn’t done anything wrong and he’s definitely grown and strengthened, he’s the sort of horse whose better off in the stable,” Vile said.
Meanwhile, he will have three runners on his home track at Awapuni on Thursday, including Cornerstone in The Laminex Group Handicap (2100m).
A half-brother to the Group Three winner and Group One performer Ginner Hart, the four-year-old finished seventh at Hawera over a mile last Sunday.
“It’s a far better trip for him tomorrow and I was always going to back him up,” Vile said.
He will be opposed by stablemate My Magician, who is preparing for a return to jumping.
“He’s heading toward the Awapuni Hurdles,” Vile said. “He’s doing well.”
The other member of the team in action on Thursday will be Cape Du Jeu in the Placemakers Handicap (1550m).
Proven in heavy ground, the four-year-old has finished third in each of her two outings following a spell.
“They were two good runs and she’s knocking the door,” Vile said. – NZ Racing Desk.