Sunday at the Sunshine Coast sees the postponed...
Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) favourite Hartnell resumes from a three week spell on Saturday at Moonee Valley, and jockey Craig Williams is confident the veteran eight-year old can prove age is just another number.
“He’s not getting any younger, that’s obvious” Williams told RSN’s Racing Pulse on Friday.
“But this is his weakest assignment he’s had. The way that he closed the race off the other day (August 18) felt like that’s the reason he’s still at that level, and I felt like he had more to come”.
The race Williams is referring to is the $200,000 Group 2 P.B Lawrence Stakes (1400m), a day that saw the three-time Group 1 winner finish second first-up behind Wayne and John Hawkes’ four-year old Showtime at Caulfield.
First-up runs have never proved a problem for Hartnell across his three-year career. Better yet, neither have second-up runs, having placed in three of his six starts including running third in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) back in February.
Jumping from barrier 9 on Saturday, Hartnell enters as the $3.80 second-elect with Ladbrokes ahead of the Dato, and after showing plenty on the bridle during his last start, Williams feel he’s ready to go.
“That was his career best form, I reckon James (Cummings) has come up with a really good race to get this horse to win” Williams later told RSN.
With Darren Weir’s Night Watch entering as the $3.60 favourite, Hartnell will have his work cut out for him down the straight, but it remains to be seen how Weir’s five-year old backs up on short rest following last week’s win at Caulfield over 1400m.
Of course, Hartnell is no stranger to beating home top quality horses. His last start saw him sit two off the pace early in third position, showing plenty of patience with Williams on board. He then took to the rail on the bend and probably could have won if he wasn’t held up by Jungle Edge in the final 100m, but Hartnell still beat home Widgee Turf and the ever-speedy Grunt.
It’s likely we see Williams stick to a similar strategy on Saturday, but he’ll need to establish a strong position with Night’s Watch jumping from barrier 5.
With reports suggesting Winx’s biggest rival is in excellent condition though, the stable’s decision to potentially steer away from the usual Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup preparation should do the old warhorse plenty of good. Look for Hartnell to challenge late on Saturday.
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