Godolphin’s high profile import Hartnell is on track for a re-match with Australia’s number one racehorse, glamour mare Winx, when they meet in the Group 2 $250,000 Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on February 11.
Hartnell was the best of the rest when he finished eight lengths behind Winx when runner up in the Group 1 $3m Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley during the 2016 Melbourne Spring Carnival.
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.
The John O’Shea trained Hartnell stepped out in a 1000m barrier trial at Randwick last Friday and although he didn’t bother the placegetters when sixth of nine to Heart Testa, assistant trainer Darren Beadman said that jockey James Doyle was happy with the hit out.
“James was pretty excited with him. He jumped well, he relaxed and he’s pulled up in tremendous shape,” Beadman said.
Beadman said that Hartnell is a better horse on the bigger tracks and the big striding six year old will get that opportunity when he takes on Winx first up in the Apollo Stakes at Randwick.
“As much as he’s got a turn of foot he seems to be better off on bigger, more spacious tracks where he can get into a nice rhythm,” Beadman said.
“But he runs well wherever he goes.”
“Hopefully we can pick up something on the way through …. he’s been such a tremendous horse for us.”
Hartnell’s main 2017 Sydney Autumn Carnival target is the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 8, the same as Winx, and he is also likely to clash with Chris Waller’s supper mare in the Group 1 $600,000 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on February 25.
Hartnell’s other Autumn Carnival run will be in the Group 1 $700,000 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on March 18 while Waller has pencilled in the Group 1 $1m George Ryder Stakes (1500m) for Winx on the same day.
Harnell was in outstanding form during the 2016 Spring Carnival in the lead up to the Cox Plate with wins in the Group 2 $250,000 Tattersalls Club Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) and the Group 2 $200,000 Ascend Sales Trophies Hill Stakes (2000m) at Randwick followed by a win in the Group 1 $500,000 Yellowglen Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington.
Winx is set to continue her Autumn Carnival preparation in a 1000m barrier trial at Rosehill on Tuesday after running third in a 900m trial at Rosehill on January 17.
In early betting for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au, Winx is the dominant favourite at $1.80 with Hartnell the second pick at $11 in front of Omei Sword at $17 and The United States at $21.
Early betting for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au: $1.80 Winx, $11 Hartnell, $17 Omei Sword, $21 The United States, $26 Black Heart Bart, Comin’ Through, Jameka, Prized Icon, Sacred Elixir, Tosen Stardom, Yankee Rose, $31 Bondi Beach, Divine Prophet, Exospheric, Sir Isaac Newton.