The airborne Kelly Schweida-trained...
Godolphin trainer James Cummings is reserving a final decision on the 2017 Melbourne Cup run of Hartnell until later in the week but confirmed the horse was peaking ahead of his next run.
The Group 1 $2 million Emirates Stakes (2000m) on Saturday November 11 remains a possible option for the son of Authorized on the final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Cummings though said the stable was leaning towards the Group 1 $6.25 million Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) over the two miles at Flemington on November 7.
Godolphin already have English raider Folkswood on the 2017 Emirates Stakes path after the Charlie Appleby-trained gelding’s solid third to Winx in the Group 1 Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) last Saturday.
That makes the Melbourne Cup a more appealing option for last year’s third placegetter Hartnell.
“No final decision has been made just yet, we’ll probably make a decision by Thursday or Friday,” Cummings told Racing Victoria.
“The alternative would be the Emirates Stakes but Godolphin do have Folkswood, who ran well in the Cox Plate, going that way.”
Allocated this year’s 57.5kg Melbourne Cup top weight, Hartnell will rise 1.5kg on the weight he carried to third behind Almandin (1st) and Heartbreak City (2nd) in the ‘Race That Stops A Nation’ last spring.
The horse was in flying form ahead of that run having won Flemington’s Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) by over three lengths before his second to Winx in the 2016 Cox Plate quinella.
Hartnell enjoyed a first-up win on August 19 in the Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield carrying 60kg and looked on track for a stellar campaign.
He was the beaten odds-on favourite behind runaway winner Humidor next-up however in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) before finishing second again on October 1 behind Bonneval in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m).
After those two disappointments, Hartnell failed to fire in the Group 1 Ladbrokes Stakes (2000m) on October 14 when six lengths back ninth behind Gailo Chop and hasn’t raced since.
Cummings remains confident the horse has a spring Group 1 win in him yet however following a nice piece of work on Tuesday morning at Breakfast With The Stars.
“Hartnell worked well, he looks to have appreciated having a few easy weeks since the Caulfield Stakes and we are very happy with him,” he said.
“He looks to be working nicely towards a peak and if it happens that we run him in the Cup on Tuesday I think he’ll acquit himself very well.”
The latest pre-field Melbourne Cup odds have Hartnell easing out to $34 through Ladbrokes.com.au and Damian Lane is on standby for the ride.
Almandin defends his Melbourne Cup title this season and remains top of betting at $6.50 despite a flat fourth last start in the Group 3 The Bart Cummings (2500m).
The Lloyd Williams-owned stayer won that same lead-up race on way to Melbourne Cup success in 2016 and international hoop Frankie Dettori rides the reigning champ this season.
Last year’s Melbourne Cup winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy, who also guided Brew (2000) to victory, is set to ride German raider Red Cardinal for the race’s 2014 winning trainer Andreas Wohler (Protectionist).
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