Godolphin’s flagbearer Hartnell might have set up another clash with super mare Winx after scoring a tough first up win in the Group 1 $500,000 Ladbrokes C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield today.
Trainer James Cummings suggested that Hartnell could head back to Sydney and run in the Group 1 $600,000 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on March 3, the race Chris Waller has selected for Winx to make her belated Autumn Carnival appearance.
Winx was scheduled to return for the Autumn in the Group 2 $250,000 Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on February 17 but her return to the race track was put back so that her regular rider Hugh Bowman would be free to ride her after being out due to a careless riding suspension.
Hartnell has come up against Winx on seven previous occasions and was runner up to the great mare four times, the latest being a second in the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick during the 2017 The Championships.
Cummings has produced a great training effort to get Hartnell to win first up after he was flattened following a well beaten twentieth in the Group 1 $6.25m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington last November.
“I had a feeling if he was to return as good as that he might be able to target a Chipping Norton with him second up and we will have the fit horse on the scene,” Cummings said.
“The horse does sprint very well on the fresh side and I do like the idea of keeping him fresh
“He is an absolute pleasure to train.”
“This is the horse’s third Group 1 since arriving here and of course he has been the sparring partner of some quite good horses in the past few seasons.”
“It is amazing to see him produce such a big effort like that when you think about how hard it is to win Group 1s when you have to do it so tough like that from wide barriers.”
Winning jockey Craig Williams was able to manoeuvre Hartnell ($6) into a midfield position from a wide barrier and after balancing him up in the straight, the seven year old was able to squeeze in between horses to get the judge’s decision in a blanket finish.
The ever consistent Single Gaze ($19) was able to sneak up along the fence to get to within a short head of the winner with the Darren Weir trained Brave Smash ($9.50) flashing home late out wide for third.
Brave Smash’s stablemate Tosen Stardom was sent out as the $4 favourite but faded in the straight to finish eleventh, two and a half lengths from the winner.