Trainer John O’Shea revealed he was not expecting a particularly polished performance from Hartnell first-up in Saturday’s Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm, but is now eyeing a berth in the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) after the classy import displayed an exceptional turn of foot to finish second behind Contributer.
Jumping from the gates well, jockey James Doyle settled Hartnell off the pace of the Chipping Norton Stakes’ early leaders, finding a position three wide with cover over the back straight and rounding the bend.
Arriving on the final straight with plenty to do, the son of Authorized steadily spooled up and charged forward; poking clear of the main pack and hitting the line half a length off the pace of his classy stable mate.
Understandably thrilled with the performance, O’Shea revealed the 2015 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 14th is now more than worth consideration ahead of a possible progression to his initial target; the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) on March 28th.
“We did expect him to run very well,” O’Shea said.
“Ideally, we had him pegged as our BMW/Sydney Cup horse, but he’s in the Australian Cup and it’s something we’ll discuss.”
Having saddled fellow import Contributer to success in the Chipping Norton as well as It’s Somewhat first-up in the Group 3 Liverpool City Cup (1300m), O’Shea credited Godolphin’s bloodstock consultant John Ferguson for the impressive results.
“That’s the beauty with John, he has a familiarity with Australian racing and he knows the sort of horses we need,” O’Shea said.
“They were all very well performed horses in Europe so it’s probably no surprise that they’re racing well.”
Posting an impressive record of five wins and as many minor places from his 14 competitive starts so far, Hartnell began his racing tenure under the guidance of Mark Johnston.
Having placed a credible third in the Group 1 Criterium De Saint-Cloud (2000m) at the end of his maiden racing preparation in 2013, Hartnell returned in similarly impressive form in 2014, highlighted by back-to-back victories in the Listed Queen’s Vase (3219m) and Group 3 Bahrain Trophy (2414m); returning to the paddock following a credible seventh in the Group 1 Ladbrokes St Leger (2937m).