John O’Shea’s Chelmsford Stakes winner Hartnell is the sure-to-be favourite among the Hill Stakes 2016 nominations taken for the Royal Randwick clash this weekend in Sydney.
One of five Group status races on the George Main Stakes Day card on Saturday, this year’s $200,000 Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m) has attracted 13 staying types at nomination stage.
Leading the Hill Stakes nominations and all-in betting at Ladbrokes.com.au at an already odds-on price of $1.70 is Godolphin galloper Hartnell.
The Authorzied six-year-old will be third-up if accepted into the Hill Stakes field having run second to Winx first-up in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) before his runaway victory over Grand Marshal in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) on September 3.
Winx missed the Chelmsford due to the Heavy-rated Randwick track a fortnight back, the absence of the superstar mare and the track conditions suiting Hartnell to a tee.
He blitzed his rivals by nearly eight lengths and with winning form up to two miles, the 2000m three runs in on Saturday should be ideal in the weight-for-age Hill Stakes.
O’Shea has also nominated for his Hurricane Run seven-year-old Magic Hurricane, the veteran import best known for his Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m) win at Randwick in October last year.
That followed a first-up second to Preferment (2015) in the Hill Stakes, which he’s out to go one better than this weekend 12 months on.
He comes off a third to Sense Of Occasion in Rosehill’s Listed Premier’s Cup (1900m) carrying 61kg, a race he won last year with only 54kg on his back, and will enjoy the drop back to 59kg on Saturday.
The reigning Hill Stakes winner Preferment meanwhile is back to defend his title and go back-to-back in the race for the first time since Desert War (2005-2006).
His trainer Chris Waller has won the past three editions of the Hill Stakes with Moriarty (2013) and Junoob (2014) before Preferment last spring.
Preferment won the Hill Stakes after an unplaced Chelmsford Stakes (12th) run last season and then headed south to win the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington.
He has subsequently won a further two Group 1 races – the Australian Cup and The BMW from the autumn – and comes off a first-up fourth to Hartnell in this year’s Chelmsford.
Waller’s other early chances of securing his fourth straight Hill Stakes success are Melbourne Cup placegetter Who Shot Thebarman, Sydney Cup winner Grand Marshal, Storm The Stars and Spiritjim.
The most likely to finish in the money if accepted is Sea The Stars stallion Storm The Stars who comes off a first-up third in the Chelmsford Stakes.
The other headline Hill Stakes nominee is Tavago, the former New Zealander now based at the Cranbourne stables of Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young.
Winner of the Group 1 ATC Derby (2400m) in April, four-year-old Tavistock gelding Tavago is out to improve on a first-up 11th to Awesome Rock in Moonee Valley’s Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m).
As well as the Hill Stakes in Sydney he is also nominated for a shot at a Caulfield Cup ballot exemption with a run in Melbourne’s $150,000 Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) on Saturday.
Check out the full Hill Stakes 2016 nominations below then check out the exclusive George Main Stakes promotion on offer at Ladbrokes.com.au this weekend!
2016 Hill Stakes Nominations
Randwick Racecourse – 17/09/2016
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Sex||Age||Trainer||Ballot||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||x4650x5x21||HARTNELL (GB)||G||6||John O’Shea||1||59kg||116|
|2||907x4110x4||PREFERMENT (NZ)||H||5||Chris Waller||2||59kg||115|
|3||1x90324x65||WHO SHOT THEBARMAN (NZ)||G||8||Chris Waller||3||59kg||111|
|4||2113061×0||TAVAGO (NZ)||G||4||Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young||4||58kg||109|
|5||x0069x031x||GALLANTE (IRE)||G||6||Robert Hickmott||5=||59kg||108|
|6||3x08533x72||GRAND MARSHAL (GB)||G||7||Chris Waller||5=||59kg||108|
|7||2314x797x3||STORM THE STARS (USA)||H||5||Chris Waller||5=||59kg||108|
|8||447204x77x||SPIRITJIM (FR)||H||7||Chris Waller||8||59kg||107|
|9||21x7966x53||MAGIC HURRICANE (IRE)||G||7||John O’Shea||9=||59kg||106|
|10||4x8xD21x00||SIGNOFF (IRE)||G||7||Darren Weir||9=||59kg||106|
|11||x009x830x3||FOUNDRY (IRE)||G||7||Robert Hickmott||11||59kg||98|
|12||1x0x0730x5||OBSERVATIONAL (GB)||G||6||Robert Hickmott||12||59kg||97|