Hartnell justified his position as dominant favourite to record an outstanding victory in the 2016 Hill Stakes at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Hartnell returned to winning form with a classy effort in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) a fortnight ago and he was just as good in the Hill Stakes this afternoon.
James McDonald slotted Hartnell just behind Storm The Stars in the early stages of the Hill Stakes and the leading hoop barely touched the imported stayer, but he was still able to run away from his rivals in empathic fashion.
McDonald said that he has been delighted with Hartnell this preparation and he believes that he is on a very happy horse heading into the rest of the 2016 Spring Racing Carnival.
“He is just a happy horse,” McDonald said.
“It is good when you have to waste and you get to ride him, it makes the job easy.
“I got a lovely run in the race and he is settling a lot better, his whole demeanour about racing is a lot better.
“He is just a really good horse.”
John O’Shea revealed after the Chelmsford Stakes that the Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m) would be the major spring target for Hartnell and he said again that he would like to keep the son of Authorized in Sydney for as long as possible before potentially sending him to Melbourne for races like the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) and the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m).
“We have to put it into perspective – it was very, very good but he didn’t have too much to do,” O’Shea said.
“The opposition was a little bit flat, but we will see what Mac (McDonald) says and see how the horse is.
“He has put together two nice performances now and he is in a good frame of mind.
“We would like to keep him in Sydney for as long as we could because he gets the wonderful advantage of being at Osborne Park.
“I think that his best chance of winning a major Group 1 this season would be in the Caulfield Cup.
“Caulfield can get very firm and he doesn’t like that really rock-hard ground.
“There are a lot of things to take into account.”
Who Shot Thebarman hit the line strongly to finish second in an eye-catching performance and Storm The Stars toughed it out after leading for third.