Trainer John O’Shea’s stable flag bearer Hartnell is at his peak and ready to attack his nemesis Winx in the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on the second day of ‘The Championships’ on Saturday.
Hartnell has faced off on six occasions against Winx and has failed to make an impression but O’Shea said that the six year old is ready to put some pressure on the glamour mare who is lining up for the seventeenth consecutive win and and twelfth Group 1 trophy.
“Obviously, Hartnell has to take on Winx, but he will run the best race of his preparation,” O’Shea said.
“We’re very happy, he’s been set for one race and he really looks to be coming to a nice peak.”
Hartnell, with James Doyle in the saddle, has drawn barrier one and O’Shea said that the good gate will go along away to giving him every chance to be competitive against the world’s highest rated galloper.
“Most importantly for him, gate one is a nice gate because if you go back to his Turnbull Stakes performance where he rolled along behind the speed, he should be able to get some cover and box seat,” O’Shea said.
Hartnell did run second to Winx on three occasions from six meetings, the first time when beaten three and a half lengths in the 2016 Group 2 $250,000 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Randwick, beaten eight lengths when runner up in the 2016 Group 1 $3m Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley and got to within two and three quarter lengths of her when he chased her home in the Group 2 $250,000 The Star Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on February 13 at the beginning of the 2017 Sydney Autumn Carnival.
The English import then put in one of his worst performances when eighth to Winx in the Group 1 $600,000 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on February 25 but then showed glimpses of his best form with a last start second to Our Ivanhowe in the Group 1 $700,000 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on March 18.
Winx is a dominant $1.09 favourite at Ladbrokes.com.au and has also drawn nicely at barrier three in the nine horse Queen Elizabeth Stakes field with regular rider Hugh Bowman to take the reins again.
Hartnell is on the second line of betting at $11 ahead of Ranvet Stakes third placegetter The United States at $18 and Doncaster Mile runner up Happy Clapper at $19.