The step up to 1800m of the Group 1 $750,000 Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes at Caulfield on Sunday will suit Hartnell at his third Spring Carnival outing.
Trainer James Cummings has reported that Hartnell has come through his tough second up run when runner up to Humidor in the Group 1 $750,000 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on September 16 and strip in tip top condition on the weekend.
“I was delighted to see him pull up quite well from what was a tough run in the Makybe Diva Stakes,” Cummings said.
“He had to burn the candle at both ends that day and he was still able to hold off the challenges and battle on bravely for second.”
“He steps out to the 1800m here in the Underwood and he’ll be better suited at that trip in his third-up run.”
Kerrin McEvoy gets the ride again on Hartnell who has drawn awkwardly at gate eight in the nine horse field and Cummings would be happy if the Melbourne Cup winning jockey could find some cover in the early and middle stages on the short priced favourite.
“We’d love to ride him with a little bit of cover this time, be a little more neutral from the barriers,” Cummings said.
“I think he’s really ready to attack the line and he showed sharpness in a gallop at Caulfield on Tuesday morning.
“He’s in great form, he’s well within himself, ticking over beautifully and doing everything we need him to do and hopefully on Sunday he can pick up a G1 for us.”
Hartnell produced a terrific first up win in the Group 2 $200,000 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 19 before getting run down by Humidor in the Makybe Diva Stakes.
Hartnell is currently sitting at the top of the market order at $2.05 for the Underwood Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au and has a clear margin over last year’s winner Black Heart Bart and Australian Oaks winner Bonneval at $4.80.
The Darren Weir trained Black Heart Bart has been placed at all three runs this prepration and is coming off a last start third in the Makybe Diva Stakes while the Kiwi mare Bonneval looked impressive in winning first up in the Group 2 $250,000 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at The Valley on September 9.