Odds on favourite Hartnell is set to face a full field in the Group 1 $750,000 PFD Food Services Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington today.
The Flemington track has been rated a Good 4 on a chilly day in Melbourne with the weight for age field staying intact with twelve runners with the James Cummings trained Hartnell solid at the top of the market order for the Makybe Diva Stakes at $1.80 at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Black Heart Bart is the best of the Darren Weir trio at $7 while Humidor is marked $12 and Gailo Chop has had some friends, firming in from $19 to $15.
The Kris Lees trained Le Romain is on the third line of betting at $11 coming off a last start fifth to Vega Magic in the Group 1 $1m New Zealand Bloodstock Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on September 2.
Black Heart Bart is also heading into the Makybe Diva Stakes after finishing second in the Memsie Stakes while Hartnell has had a month in bewteen runs and hasn’t started since his first up win in the Group 2 $200,000 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 19.
Godolphin’s head trainer Janes Cummings is happy with the progress of Hartnell since his P.B. Lawrence Stakes win but admits a month in between runs could be his only flaw in the Makybe Diva Stakes.
“This race is that little bit stronger than what he faced first-up and some of those horses will have an extra run under their belts. He might be a little vulnerable from that perspective,” Cummings told the Herald Sun.
Brushing that aside, Cummings is still very keen on Hartnell’s chances in the 1600m weight for age contest going on the way he toyed with his opposition in the P.B. Lawrence Stakes.
“He looked like he absorbed that first-up run even better than his preliminary training. It’s a really good sign,” Cummings said.
“Not only were we very impressed by his return in the PB Lawrence, where he was able to win very comfortably over 1400m, but we’ve been very pleased with him in between runs.
“We’re very excited about his prospects on the weekend.”
Hartnell has drawn barrier eight in the twelve horse Makybe Diva Stakes field and will be ridden for the first time by Melbourne Cup winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy while Black Heart Bart will jump from beside him at seven with regular rider Brad Rawiller in the saddle again.