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He is the easing favourite but Hartnell still sits top of the 2016 Melbourne Cup odds for the iconic Flemington Race 7 on Tuesday, so can the Godolphin galloper get the job done for the punters?
It seems crazy that this in-form John O’Shea-trained import off the ace form isn’t top weight for the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m).
Two back he put three lengths on subsequent Caulfield Cup winner Jameka winning the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington, and then ran second to the unstoppable Winx in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m).
Coming back from that weight-for-age run on October 22 with 59kg, the six-year-old son of Authorized will relish the 56kg on Melbourne Cup Day with star hoop James McDonald retaining the ride.
Hartnell jumps from barrier 12, a gate that hasn’t produced a Melbourne Cup winner in over 30 years, but is still favourite in betting at Ladbrokes.com.au.
He’s eased out from an earlier price of $4.80 to $5.50 to be the first favourite to salute since Fiorente (2013), who backed-up from a Cox Plate third, and still represents good value.
Sydney’s Chris Waller saddles-up two Melbourne Cup chances in 2016 – Who Shot Thebarman ($41) and Grand Marshal ($41) – but is happy to put Hartnell on top of his tips for the two mile classic.
“I’m hell bent on the Australian horses, I can’t go past Hartnell because he beat Jameka in the Turnbull,” Waller told Racing Victoria.
“I realise he has had a couple of runs at two miles and not performed at his best, but I feel he is a different horse this preparation and it would just frank the Winx form and obviously Jameka herself.
“Whatever stays the two miles out of those two will be hard to beat as their form is impeccable.”
So can Hartnell hold off the charge of internationals and be the 2016 Melbourne Cup winner improving on his 15th in the race 12 months ago?
2016 Melbourne Cup Horse Form #6 Hartnell
Jockey: James McDonald
Trainer: John O’Shea
Breeding: by Authorized (IRE) from Debonnaire (GB)
Last 6: x21112
Prize Money: $2,673,999
Current 2016 Melbourne Cup Odds: $5.50
Yes – Hartnell Can Win the 2016 Melbourne Cup
- Looks very well weighted on 56kg, the lightest weight he’s carried since 55.5kg in last year’s Melbourne Cup
- Delta Blues (2006) was the last Melbourne Cup winner to carry exactly 56kg to victory, while Protectionist (2014) had 56.5kg on his back two years ago
- Five of the past six Melbourne Cup winners were six-year-olds so he is the right age historically-speaking to win
- Is internationally-bred and only two Australian-bred horses have won the race since 2000
- Is a multiple Group 1 winner and has won over $2.6 million in prize money
- Hasn’t finished worse than second in all five runs this time in
- Is a Group 1 winner at the Flemington track
- Has winning form over the two miles (3-1-0-0)
- Beat the subsequent Caulfield Cup winner Jameka by three lengths in the Turnbull Stakes
- Last start second in the Cox Plate sees him attempt to be the fifth Melbourne Cup winner in 11 years to graduate from that race
No – Hartnell Won’t Head the Melbourne Cup 2016 Results
- Barrier 12 hasn’t produced a Melbourne Cup winner in over 30 years
- Ran unplaced (15th) in last year’s Melbourne Cup results and only Protectionist (2013) and Brew (2000) have won the Cup at their second shot in the international era
- James McDonald is yet to ride a Melbourne Cup winner
- John O’Shea is yet to train a Melbourne Cup winner
- Fiorente ($7 in 2013) is the only favourite to win the Melbourne Cup in the past decade
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