Hartnell has continued his scintillating run of form through the 2016 Spring Carnival with another impressive and comfortable win over a classy field in the Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick this afternoon.
Jumping from the gates well, jockey James McDonald allowed the five-year-old to stride forward and take an ideal position in transit on the heels of early leaders Storm The Stars.
Switching off and receiving an ideal run in transit, the Authorized gelding found the fore of the field leading into the final straight and only continued to improve; opening a gap of around six lengths by the time he found the line ahead of Who Shot Thebarman and Storm The Stars.
McDonald was a passenger as the horse put himself into the race and jogged clear of his rivals in the final straight, and believes the best is still to come for Hartnell this time.
“He’s just a happy horse, and happy horse means happy jockey and happy trainer!” McDonald said.
“I got a lovely run in the race and he’s settling a lot better. His whole demeanour is better and he’s just a very good horse.”
Trainer John O’Shea was on hand for Hartnell’s dominant win in the Hill Stakes, and confirmed that the horse will remain on target for the Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m) in a fortnight, before a likely trip to Melbourne.
“I think we’ve got to take it in perspective,” O’Shea said.
“It was very, very good but I’m not sure if he had too much to do. Maybe the opposition was a little bit flat.
“We’ll see what Mac says and we’ll see how the horse is. He’s put together two nice performances now.
“He’s in a good frame of mind and we’d like to keep him in Sydney as long as we can. He gets the wonderful advantage of being as Osbourne Park.
“There’s a lot to discuss. I think really his best chance of winning a major Group 1 this season is the Caulfield Cup. There’s a lot of things to take into account.”
Hartnell has firmed into outright favouritism in 2016 Caulfield Cup betting markets with Ladbrokes.com.au, while he now sits on the third line of betting for the Cox Plate 2016.
2016 Hill Stakes Results
|1||1||HARTNELL (GB)||John O’Shea||James McDonald||–||3||59kg||$1.45F|
|2||3||WHO SHOT THEBARMAN (NZ)||Chris Waller||Christian Reith||5.8L||6||59kg||$21|
|3||5||STORM THE STARS (USA)||Chris Waller||Tye Angland||7.1L||5||59kg||$15|
|4||6||MAGIC HURRICANE (IRE)||John O’Shea||Brenton Avdulla||8.1L||1||59kg||$18|
|5||2||PREFERMENT (NZ)||Chris Waller||Hugh Bowman||8.2L||2||59kg||$5.50|
|6||4||GRAND MARSHAL (GB)||Chris Waller||Rory Hutchings||11.7L||4||59kg||$26|