Gary Vile is confident his leading three-year-old Hard Merchandize will cope with a step up in distance.
The Awapuni trainer has his sights set on upcoming features at Trentham and Ellerslie with the Group-winning son of Burgundy.
“He’s got two major assignments left and I think he’ll handle a mile fine,” Vile said.
The gelding will make his next appearance in the Group 1 Grant Plumbing Levin Classic (1600m) on Saturday followed by the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) a fortnight later.
Successful in the Listed Castletown Stakes (1200m) last season, Hard Merchandize added the Group 2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m) to his record in the spring.
He was then given a break after finishing fifth in the Group 2 James & Annie Sarten Memorial (1400m) at Te Rapa.
Following a trial success, Hard Merchandize headed to Auckland where he ran fifth in the Group 2 Bonecrusher Stakes (1400m) and then acquitted himself well last time out against the older horses on his home track.
In the Group 2 Manawatu Challenge Stakes (1400m), Hard Merchandize made the running and stuck on determinedly to finish fifth and less than two lengths off the winner Splurge.
“I thought he fought on very, very well and he’s come through the race nicely,” Vile said. “He’s looking good”.