John O’Shea has revealed that Hartnell will be included in the 2015 Australian Cup final field, but he remains no certainty to make the trip to Melbourne for the Group 1 event at Flemington on Saturday.
Hartnell has been included in the nominations for both the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington and Group 3 Sky High Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday and he confirmed that the four-year-old will be included in the acceptances for both races.
O’Shea was originally concerned that the Flemington track may prove too firm for Hartnell’s liking in the Australia Cup, but the Godolphin trainer told Sky Racing HQ that he was happy with the way that the track was presented last weekend for Australian Guineas day and is happy to run the Authorized gelding at the track on Saturday as long as he draws towards the outside when the Australian Cup barrier draw is conducted tomorrow morning.
“We will definitely accept in both places and see where he draws,” O’Shea said.
“There looks to be good tempo in the Australian Cup this year and the track was very good on Saturday.
“There isn’t any imminent warm weather because sometimes you know at Flemington that the track tends to bake and get very firm, which just isn’t suitable to a horse like Hartnell.
“The track was very good on the weekend and I wouldn’t have any problems running him if that was the case.
“If he drew one or two I would think that would not be an advantage there and I would probably leave him at home, but if he drew a bit outside that would be better.
“There is no doubting the tempo that is going to be in that race on Saturday and it is going to be a genuine run mile and a quarter, which will definitely suit my bloke.”
Hartnell made his racing debut under the care of Mark Johnson in the United Kingdom and he was purchased by Godolphin and transferred to Australia after he finished seventh in the Group 1 Ladbrokes St Leger Stakes (2937m) at Doncaster in September of last year.
The talented gelding stamped himself as a horse to follow with two strong performances in barrier trials at Warwick Farm in the lead-up to his Australian racing debut where he chased home stablemate Contributer to finish a most impressive second in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm on February 28.
Harntell is currently available at 2015 Australian Cup odds of $5 with Ladbrokes and is a narrow favourite from Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist ($5.50) and triple Group 1 winner Happy Trails ($6).