The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
Whether Hartnell faces another encounter with Winx or steps-up in distance for a Caulfield Cup bid next-up will be determined after the Godolphin galloper’s 2017 Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes run on the weekend.
The now James Cummings-trained son of Authorized has disappointed the punters in his two latest runs, but will be out to atone getting out over more metres fourth-up in Saturday’s Group 1 $1 million Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes (2000m).
A dual Group 1 winning import, seven-year-old Hartnell is after his first elite level success since defeating subsequent Caulfield Cup winner Jameka in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) by over three lengths last October.
Hartnell went on last spring to finish runner-up behind Winx when defeated by a record-breaking margin of eight lengths in the Group 1 $3 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) and third to Almandin in the Group 1 $6 million Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m).
He had a consistent autumn preparation that produced three seconds from four runs, two of which were again behind the world’s best mare Winx.
First-up Hartnell looked on track for a killer spring winning the Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield carrying 60kg by over two lengths.
He jumped odds-on next-up at Flemington in mid-September in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) but in a shock loss was defeated over three lengths by the upset Darren Weir-trained winner Humidor.
Last time out Hartnell raced back at Caulfield, where he returns again on Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas Day this weekend, and was again beaten this time a length behind the flying New Zealand mare Bonneval in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m).
Godolphin’s racing manager Jason Walsh spoke to the Brisbane Times this week and said the team were confident Hartnell could return to winning form in the Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes.
“He has ran two very good races and been beaten by two very good horses,” Walsh said.
“He comes to a bit of a crossroads on Saturday and it will decide which way he will head for the rest of the spring.”
On Monday the race attracted 20 nominations with all-in Caulfield Stakes betting at race sponsor featuring Bonneval and Hartnell as equal $3 favourites.
Prepared across the Tasman by Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman, four-year-old Makfi mare Bonneval chases a seventh win on the trot and gets out over further than 1800m since completing the NZ Oaks – ATC Oaks double last season over a mile and a half.
Bonneval heads towards Saturday week’s Group 1 $3 million BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m), which could also be on the cards for Hartnell.
If not the Caulfield Cup on the quick back-up, the Godolphin team will save Hartnell for the following Saturday’s Cox Plate where he’ll be running for second again behind the Chris Waller-trained Winx.
“He gets to the 2000m where he is very comfortable and we expect him to be near his best,” Walsh said.
“He is in good shape and there are a number of different directions he could head but it depends on his run on Saturday.”
Winx is into $1.25 to join Kingston Town on a trio of Cox Plate wins after her barnstorming six and a half-length Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) win last Saturday debuting at Flemington.
To check out all the latest spring racing odds for this weekend and on the upcoming majors like the Cox Plate 2017, head to Ladbrokes.com.au.
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