Local galloper Zahspeed remains the solid...
Godolphin’s dual Group 1 winning seven-year-old is being considered for an Australian Cup 2018 bid in the early stages of the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival next time in.
Trainer James Cummings has the imported Authorized gelding back in work and is mapping out possible Group 1 targets for the $4.46 million earner in the autumn.
The major focus is getting the galloper back to his Group 1 winning form at weight-for-age and that brings Hartnell into contention for February’s Group 1 $500,000 Ladbrokes C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m) – Group 1 $500,000 Futurity Stakes (1400m) double won by Black Heart Bart in 2017.
“Obviously we’ll aim up at the weight for age races and I have a good idea of where I want to have him coming through but I’m prepared to be flexible with him,” Cummings told Racing NSW.
Cummings is keeping options open and hasn’t ruled out a Flemington run on March 10 in the Group 1 $1.5 million Australian Cup (2000m) for Hartnell over the Sydney autumn features around that time.
“I’d like to get the horse back to Sydney but I don’t want to rule out Australian Cups, or two runs at 1400m rather than one. He went really well for us first-up [in the spring],” Cummings added.
The Australian Cup is run over the same track and distance as the spring’s Turnbull Stakes, which Hartnell enjoyed the second of his two current Group 1 wins at in October of 2016 defeating Jameka.
His other top level triumph was in Sydney back in March of 2015 over Japanese raider To The World in the Group 1 The BMW (2400m).
Hartnell was last seen bombing out in this year’s Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) on November 7 when over 28 lengths back 20th behind the Irish-trained winner Rekindling.
It was the end to a really hit and miss campaign for the honest old warhorse whose only win of the season came first-up at Caulfield in the Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m), which was his first start at the track.
Hartnell went on to run second in both the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) and Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) as the beaten favourite, before a Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) ninth and the Melbourne Cup failure.
The spring prior, Hartnell was one of the ace performers of the season winning the aforementioned Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) after back-to-back Group 2 Sydney wins at Randwick that September.
A regular rival to the world’s best mare Winx, in 2016 Hartnell also finished runner-up to Chris Waller’s champion in her second Group 1 Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) triumph before his third in that year’s Melbourne Cup trifecta.
In the autumn of this year Hartnell kicked things off in Sydney facing Winx twice on the trot for a second in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m) and then eighth in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) on a Heavy (9) track.
His other two autumn runs were also in Sydney when second to Our Ivanhowe in the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on a mud track and then second to Winx again at Randwick in the lucrative Group 1 $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m), beaten five and a quarter lengths by the freakish daughter of Street Cry.
Cummings is hesitant to take Hartnell into another clash with the mighty Winx, but admitted if his stable ace was flying and the mare looked vulnerable it could happen.
“If he came back and I felt like he was better than in the spring then I would never say never,” he said.
“When I reflect on [his spring campaign] he couldn’t beat Humidor over a mile and with good reason because Humidor was the only one that could really put it to her [Winx].”
To get behind Hartnell next race and to access all the best autumn racing odds online visit Ladbrokes.com.au.
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