Godolphin’s number one Australian jockey James McDonald has plenty of faith that Hartnell has all the right credentials to win the Group 1 $3m Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Hartnell is the $3.90 second favourite behind the all-conquering Winx who heads the Cox Plate market order with Ladbrokes.com.au at $1.90 with the remainder of the field at double figure odds and McDonald can’t wait for the battle to begin.
“He has all the right attributes — toughness, the will-to-win, and both sustained speed plus a turn-of-foot,” McDonald wrote ion the Godolphin website.
“But we will need everything to go our way, make no mistake. This is a tough task, being up against Winx in a vintage running of the race.”
“I have to admit though, I have so much faith in Hartnell. He gets the job done — and he has never been going better.”
“Physically, I don’t think Hartnell can get any better. He is so strong at present. Just look at him winning the G1 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington earlier this month.”
“He is going so easily, beating Jameka, and we have just seen further proof of how good she is.”
Hartnell has clashed once with Winx so far this Spring for a second to the Chris Waller trained mare in the Group 2 $250,000 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on August 20.
Trainer John O’Shea has successfully been able to avoid Winx since and Hartnell has racked up a hat trick of wins with two victories at Randwick in the Group 2 $250,000 Tattersalls Club Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) and Group 2 $200,000 Ascend Sales Trophies Hill Stakes (2000m) followed by a runaway win in the Group 1 $500,000 Yellowglen Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 2.
McDonald said that Hartnell has drawn perfectly at barrier seven in the ten horse Cox Plate field while Winx will jump from gate three.
“I was rapt that he drew barrier 7, with Winx in barrier 3. That is perfect. I would hate it to be the other way around,” McDonald said.
O’Shea will also saddle up Hauraki who is a $21 chance in the Cox Plate market order.
Melbourne jockey Dwayne Dunn replaces McDonald who rode Hauraki to victory in the Group 1 $1m Epsom (1600m) at Randwick on October 1 and the Reset five year old will load into the starting stalls next to Hartnell in gate eight.
Cox Plate market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $1.90 Winx, $3.90 Hartnell, $15 Vadamos, Yankee Rose, $21 Hauraki, Lucia Valentina, $26 Black Heart Bart, $81 Awesome Rock, $101 Happy Clapper, $126 Happy Trails.