Group 1 winner Hartnell arguably figures as the unknown quantity in this afternoon’s feature race at Moonee Valley and appears to have somewhat slipped under the radar if his current 2015 Cox Plate odds are anything to go by.
Hartnell more than announced himself to the Australian racing community through an impressive debut campaign during the recent Sydney Autumn Carnival, but has yet to herald much interest for success in the 2015 Cox Plate after placing fourth in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) and sixth in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) this time.
Trainer John O’Shea is thrilled with the Hartnell’s condition leading into the 2015 Cox Plate and sees no reason the gelding won’t handle the unique Moonee Valley conditions.
“Hartnell went very well in the Turnbull Stakes and he seemed to go around Moonee Valley without any problem the other day,” O’Shea told The Daily Telegraph.
O’Shea is wary of the talented field confirmed for the feature race this year and believes the current 2015 Cox Plate odds tell the story perfectly.
“It is a very good Cox Plate, I can’t think of a strong one,” O’Shea said.
“The Turnbull winner (Preferment) is $13 – that says it.
“In recent years horses like Green Moon have won the Turnbull and gone around about $4 or $5 in the Cox Plate.”
Hartnell has been a strong and consistent performer since first appearing on course competitively for notable British trainer Mark Johnston midway through 2013; posting an impressive career total of seven wins and a further five minors through nineteen career starts so far.
Registering exceptional form through his final British campaign in 2014, Hartnell finished second to Snow Sky in the Listed Derby Trial Stakes (2310m) before taking out each of the Listed Queen’s Vase (3219m) and Group 3 Bahrain Trophy (2615m) most notably; capping his year a credible seventh in the Group 1 Ladbrokes St Leger (2937m).
Given little chance for success in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) upon debuting to Australia in February, the Authorized gelding mustered a huge late turn of foot to finish a close second to stable mate Contributer.
Progressing to success in the Group 3 Sky High Stakes (2000m), Hartnell never appeared in doubt when saluting at the highest level for the first time in the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) and returned to the paddock after fading late for fourth in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m).
Having opened at 2015 Cox Plate odds of $15 earlier this week, Hartnell did experience some early support for success but has since drifted to a quote of $17 with Ladbrokes Australia.