It was a matter of men racing against the boys in the Group 3 Sky High Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill this afternoon with Hartnell making easy work of what was essentially an exhibition gallop for the British import.
Anthony Cummings’ Fiveandahalfstar jumped fast and took the lead, which he managed to hold onto until the straight. Hartnell was two lengths away after jumping but made his up to sit just off the leaders in fourth place.
Coming round the home turn into the straight, Hartnell started to move up three wide outside, racing to the front and taking the lead. The gelding was all over it with 100 metres to go, easily winning two lengths ahead of Opinion and Hawkspur.
Second and third place in the 2015 Sky High Stakes came down to a photo finish with five horses all hitting the line together but Chris Waller scored the placing quinella.
It was the first of many wins on Australian soil for Hartnell, who only debuted two weeks ago in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m), in which he was half a length behind winner Contributer in second place.
Hartnell was due to run in the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington this afternoon but trainer John O’Shea decided to keep him in Sydney instead. He quickly became the $1.50 odds-on favourite in the betting at Ladbrokes.com.au.
“The horse jumped well, he took his time to get across and he got into a beautiful position where he could dictate the race,” O’Shea said.
“I am still learning about him and I just wasn’t sure whether he would cope with the trip and the firmness of the ground.
“We got a little bit of rain in Sydney, which made me lean here and the fact that I don’t want to overtax him during the autumn.
“We will see how he pulls up and there is the option to run him in a fortnight and the option to run him in three weeks after.
“We will just be guided by how he pulls up and what we are happy with.”
The options O’Shea talks about are of course the Group 1 BMW (2400m) on March 28 at Rosehill and the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) or Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m), which are both running at Randwick on April 11 – day two of The Championships.
James McDonald delivered the winning ride on the back of a successful week that saw the jockey retained by Godolphin as rider full-time.
“He is a very nice horse going forward and he is a horse that will obviously get better as the distances get longer,” he said.
“He has a bright future heading into The BMW in a couple of weeks.
“He showed his tactical speed and he put them away really quickly.
“He got a little bit tired late, but he is going to improve from here.”
Big things are expected this upcoming season not only from Hartnell but also from many of the Sky High Stakes runners.
2015 Sky High Stakes Race Results & Finishing Order
|1||7||HARTNELL (GB)||John O’Shea||James McDonald||–||9||55.5kg||$1.45F|
|2||5||OPINION (IRE)||Chris Waller||Tye Angland||2L||6||58kg||$18|
|3||4||HAWKSPUR||Chris Waller||Jim Cassidy||2.2L||2||58kg||$31|
|4||2||WHO SHOT THEBARMAN (NZ)||Chris Waller||Christian Reith||2.4L||7||58kg||$7|
|5||3||BEATEN UP (GB)||Chris Waller||Glyn Schofield||2.5L||5||58kg||$41|
|6||1||FIVEANDAHALFSTAR||Anthony Cummings||Sam Clipperton||2.6L||4||58kg||$26|
|7||8||DISCLAIMER (GB)||Peter & Paul Snowden||Damian Browne||4.1L||1||55.5kg||$51|
|8||6||JUNOOB (GB)||Chris Waller||Blake Shinn||5.8L||3||56.5kg||$21|
|9||9||PHRASES||Bindi Cheers||Jason Collett||5.9L||8||55kg||$31|
|10||10||PAJARO (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||Tommy Berry||9.1L||10||55kg||$15|