HARD Merchandize put on a bucking display last time to the races, but the quality three-year-old gelding was nothing but professional in winning the Hawke’s Bay Guineas on Saturday.
The Gary Vile-trained son of Burgundy finished fifth behind Melody Belle on debut before winning consecutive races on heavy tracks during the winter, but a strange bucking display as the $2.30 favourite last start at Awapuni was enough for punters to jump off its back.
“We had him fresh and young Tim (Johnson, jockey) wasted hard to ride him, but he went to buck,” explained trainer Gary Vile. “The boy did well to stay on him”
It started at $26.90 with Topbetta.com.au as all the attention was on the Tony Pike-trained runners, but they couldn’t make ground from the back on a front-running bias at Hastings and that left Hard Merchandize to battle out a four-way finish down the straight.
“We had to do something from the draw, it was a horror draw,” Vile said. “With the cut in the track I said to Cameron (Lammas), ‘ride him where he lands’, he went to the front and dictated.
“He’s a gutsy little horse.”
Cameron Lammas took bad luck out of the equation by heading straight for the lead and that proved to be the winning of the race as the chasers were all struggling to make ground on the rain-affected surface.
“He’s got good gate speed so we jumped and led and he kept fighting nicely,” Lammas said. “I got a nice soft lead on him and once we straightened up he kept fighting for me.
“I was pretty confident he’d go a good race. He won the Castletown Stakes as a two-year-old.”
Vile is planning on sending Hard Merchandize to the Karaka Million 3YO at Ellerslie next year.
“He’s a Karaka Millions horse. He’ll be heading there,” said Vile, who hasn’t disregarded running during the New Zealand Cup carnival at Riccarton.
“We’ll see, but I think he’s a better horse with a little cut (in the ground).”
The Hawkes Bay Guineas was to be the final race on the group one card after Bostonian slipped after the post and the track was subsequently deemed unsafe.
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