Veteran galloper Hartnell proved to be the tough campaigner when he beat the younger brigade in the Group 1 $1m Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick today.
Harnell ($20) was lumped with the 57kg top weight but that didn’t stop him from winning the battle against the Chris Waller trained young gun D’Argento ($4.40 equal favourite) who only had 53.5kg on his back.
Waller also picked up third and fourth places with Unforgotten ($4.40 equal favourite) and Shillelagh ($26) working to the line strongly.
The James Cummings trained Hartnell was the only horse in the race that had enough weight for Hugh Bowman to take advantage of and the champion jockey made the most of it with another first class ride.
Bowman let Hartnell settle in the middle of the pack and somehow edged him into the clear approaching the home turn.
Bowman let the eight year old balance up coming over the Randwick rise and when he started to lengthen stride, it was clear that the veteran was going to fight out the finish against his younger rivals.
James McDonald had ridden D’Argento a treat and when he shot the four year old grey to the front with his light weight, he did look the winner for a long time.
D’Argento lost no admirers as did the third placed Unforgotten and both will now head to Melbourne to continue their 2018 Spring Carnival campaigns.
The Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott trained Arbeitsam ($31) set the pace but faded to finish sixth while the more fancied Pierata ($6) never figured in the finish to wind up in ninth spot.
“You have to have belief in the horse and he is a super horse,” Cummings said.
“He has had a great build up to this event, third up. It was bold move running in an Epsom when he could have run at weight for age and been a chance in the Hill Stakes today in an earlier race, he had 57kg and has dropped in the ratings a few points.”
Today’s Epsom Handicap win was the fourth time that Hartnell had carried the Godolphin royal blue colours to victory in Group 1 company.