Trainer James Cummings has changed his lead up tactics for the stable’s flag bearer Hartnell for his third attempt to win the Group 1 $6.25m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday.
Hartnell has run in the two previous Melbourne Cups for a fifteenth to Prince Of Penzance in 2015 followed by a third to Almandin last year, both times coming off a run in the Group 1 $3m Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley ten days earlier.
This year Godolphin’s Australian head trainer has given Hartnell two extra weeks to prepare for the Melbourne Cup after producing his worst run this campaign when ninth to Gailo Chop in the Group 1 $1m Ladbrokes Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on October 14.
“This is Hartnell’s third year in the Melbourne Cup and he’s got here off a different preparation than in the past,” Cummings said on the Godolphin website.
“I realised when going through his card, that his fresh performances at his last three campaigns have been top class. Getting off the plane from the UK he ran second in the G1 Chipping Norton Stakes at a mile and it’s no surprise when I look back through his record that his only win over two miles came when he was fresh.
“So we’re taking the same approach. It will be three weeks and three days after his last run in the Caulfield Stakes by the time he gets to the Melbourne Cup. It’s a similar pattern to the recent Cup winners Efficient and Green Moon who were only fair in the Cox plate but were able to turn it around in the Melbourne Cup.
“Hartnell has shown us that he’s ready to go again, and where better to do that than in Australia’s greatest race.”
Hartnell will be Cummings’ first Melbourne Cup runner in his own right but he did saddle up Precedence to run sixth to Protectionist in 2014 when training in partnership with his famous grandfather, King’s King Bart Cummings.
“Hartnell will also be my first Melbourne Cup runner in my own name. I really enjoyed the day when I saddled up Precedence with my grandfather when he sailed home from well back to finish sixth,” Cummings said.
Damian Lane will be having has first race ride on Hartnell (barrier 12) in the Melbourne Cup but the pair have gotten to know each other with several morning track work sessions together.
“Damian Lane will have a good think about it himself, he has had a feel on the horse and I would say he will just concentrate on getting him into a good rhythm,” Cummings said.
Melbourne Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au has Hartnell marked at the good odds of $26 while English stayer Marmelo at $8.50 has displaced last year’s winner Almandin ($9) at the head of the market order in a wide open betting race.