Daniel O’Sullivan has struggled to split Winx and Hartnell in his 2016 Cox Plate tips, but he believes that it is Hartnell that represents the value in the Group 1 event at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Hartnell was beaten by Winx when he returned to the races in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on August 20, but he has since produced world-class performances in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on September 3, the Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m) on September 17 and the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 2.
O’Sullivan has a great deal of respect for both Winx and Hartnell, but he told Racing Active that with Cox Plate odds of $3.70 available he had to side with the Godolphin-owned galloper.
Update: There has been another move for Hartnell overnight and he is back into $3.50 to take out the 2016 edition of the Cox Plate.
“I am with Team Hartnell,” O’Sullivan said.
“I don’t think anybody knows who is going to win and you can’t be supremely confident one way or the other.
“There is very little between them when you look at the details and the different type of measures we focus on.
“If anything he has the better lead-up than Winx into this race.
“She has had three runs, which is not a problem but she has a bit of a break between a couple of those runs and her last start in the Ladbrokes Stakes was nothing more than a barrier trial.
“Hartnell has a phenomenal turn-of-foot and his 800 metre speed at the finish of a race is right up there with as good as horses go.
“There is virtually nothing between them in that aspect of their racing and he will be better suited if James McDonald is rolling inside the 800 metres and turns it into a test.”
O’Sullivan has no knock whatsoever on Winx and he believes that it is the versatility of the daughter of Street Cry that has enabled her to record 12 straight victories and stamp herself as the best mare in the world.
The conventional wisdom is that Winx was the winner of the 2016 Cox Plate barrier draw earlier in the week, but O’Sullivan is of the opinion that the fence will not be the place to be and he is concerned that Hugh Bowman may get trapped on the rail.
“Winx is getting in far too short for me now,” O’Sullivan said.
“She has now won 12 in a row and she is quite versatile.
“She relaxes well, she has a phenomenal turn-of-foot and the ground won’t worry her.
“If there is a slight query it is that from barrier three she won’t want to get caught on the fence.”
Winx is currently available at 2016 Cox Plate odds of $1.80 with Ladbrokes and she is a clear favourite from Hartnell ($3.70), Yankee Rose ($16), Vadamos ($19), Hauraki ($21), Lucia Valentina ($26) and Black Heart Bart ($26).
Update: Winx continues to be extremely well backed in the 2016 Cox Plate betting markets with Ladbrokes, who have taken a six-figure bet for the star mare to win the Cox Plate for the second year in a row.