Trainer John O’Shea has declared Hartnell to be in great shape as the English import prepares to take on Winx again in the Group 2 $250,000 The Star Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Randwick today.
Hartnell last clashed with Winx in the 2016 Group 1 $3m Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley during the 2017 Melbourne Spring Carnival and jockey James McDonald had to get out the binoculars to see the champion mare in the run down the Moonee Valley straight.
The Chris Waller trained mare collected her second Cox Plate trophy with runner up Hartnell the best of the rest, eight lengths behind the record breaking mare.
Winx was sent straight to the spelling paddock following her back to back Cox Plate wins but Hartnell went on to run third behind Almandin and Heartbreak City in the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington ten days later.
Hartnell and Winx are set to clash on more than one occasion during the 2017 Sydney Autumn Carnival with both heading towards the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 8, the second day of ‘The Championships’.
“Hartnell’s come back in great shape, I couldn’t be happier with his attitude and his fitness level,” O’Shea said.
“She’s (Winx) a champion, we know that, but we’re looking forward to a good positive day.
“These are the right races for him, so you go out there and race.”
English jockey James Doyle will be having his first race ride on Hartnell who will jump from barrier five in the twelve horse Apollo Stakes field.
The rescheduled Apollo Stakes has been pushed back to race eight on the ten event program and is due to start at 5.40pm Sydney time after the entire ten race Randwick program was postponed from last Saturday to today because of the severe heatwave conditions that affected most of New South Wales.
Hartnell is on the second line of betting at $9 for the Apollo Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au while Winx dominates the market order at $1.16.
Winx will be chasing her fourteenth win in succession after being undefeated since winning the Group 3 $125,000 XXXX Sunshine Coast Guineas (1600m) at the Sunshine Coast during the 2015 Queensland Winter Carnival and along the way the champion mare has collected nine Group 1 trophies which include the 2015 and 2016 Cox Plates.