Trainer John O’Shea admits that it will be hard for Hartnell to topple Winx in the Group 1 $600,000 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on Saturday but is confident the English import will be able to test the super star mare on day two of ‘The Championships’ if the conditions are right.
The 1600m of the weight for age Chipping Norton Stakes is still well sort of Hartnell’s optimum distance and O’Shea said that if they get a rain affected track for the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 8, the six year old will have his best chance of beating Australia’s new darling of the turf.
“We’ve never met her on a day when I thought we could beat her,” O’Shea said.
“If we got to 10 furlongs in the Queen Elizabeth at Randwick on a day when the track was rain affected, I think we can give Winx a competitive race.
“I don’t think that’ll come till we get to the Queen Elizabeth. Hartnell is a very effective horse at 10 furlongs to a mile-and-a-half, Winx is very effective horse from six furlongs to a mile-and-a-quarter; he’s not effective at Moonee Valley, she’s dynamic there; she’s a champion and Hartnell’s just a really good horse.
“I’m really looking forward to getting to the Queen Elizabeth, 100 per cent right, fit, on a track that suits him. I’m sure he’ll give a very good account of himself.”
The last three times the two have met Hartnell had to be content with the runner’s up cheque in the Group 2 $250,000 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Randwick and in the Group 1 $3m Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley during the 2016 Spring Carnival and when they resumed from a spell in the Group 2 $250,000 The Star Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on February 13.
The Chris Waller trained Winx has captured the imagination of the Australian racing public as she strives to chalk up her fifteenth consecutive win in the Chipping Norton Stakes for which she is a $1.12 favourite at Ladbrokes.com.au while Hartnell is the closet to her in the betting at $8.
Winx hasn’t been defeated 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 includes the 2015 and 2016 Cox Plates.
The Street Cry mare kept her winning momentum going in scoring her fourteenth win on the trot with an effortless first up victory in the Apollo Stakes at the postponed Randwick meeting on February 13.