The John O’Shea trained Hartnell will be given the job again to take up the challenge to super mare Winx when they clash again in the Group 2 $250,000 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on Saturday.
The Chris Waller trained Winx is chasing her eleventh straight win on the trot in the Chelmsford Stakes after recording her tenth consecutive victory when she beat Hartnell in the Group 2 $250,000 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on August 20.
Winx has been installed a very short priced favourite again with Ladbrokes.com.au at $1.14 while Hartnell is marked at $11.
O’Shea said that Hartnell has taken great benefit fitness wise from his first up run when he chased Winx home in the Warwick Stakes and the prospect of a rain affected track won’t be any disadvantage to the six year old.
“I couldn’t be happier with him, he’s made nice improvement since his first-up run,” O’Shea said.
“The wet track won’t be a problem for him and the mile is more to his liking than the seven last start.”
The Randwick track was rated a Soft 6 on Thursday with the Bureau Of Meteorology forecasting more rain to fall in the Sydney area on Friday and Saturday morning.
Hartnell joined the Group 1 winning club when he took out the 2015 Group 1 $1.5m The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill but he has a long way to go to match it with Winx who has recorded six wins at Group 1 level including a victory in the $3m Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley during the 2015 Melbourne Spring Carnival.
Hartnell has drawn barrier two with James McDonald to ride while Winx will jump from the outside of the eight horse Chelmsford Stakes field with regular rider Hugh Bowman in the saddle.
While Bowman knows he is on the best horse in the field, he doesn’t take the race for granted and respects his opposition.
“It’s great to see a supreme athlete. For me being involved with Winx, it’s something you dream of,” Bowman said.
“That said, anything can happen in a horse race. You don’t ever feel like you’ve got a win at your mercy.”
Waller said that Winx has progressed nicely since her first up win in the Warwick Stakes and is likely to take her place in the field if the Randwick track holds together under the threat of more rain heading into the weekend.
“Providing the conditions are safe she’ll go around,” Waller said.
“She had a nice gallop Saturday morning and then again Tuesday morning to tighten her up and make sure she’s spot on for Saturday.”
Market order for the Chelmsford Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au: $1.14 Winx, $7.50 Prized Icon, $11 Hartnell, $34 Preferment, $81 Storm The Stars, $91 Who Shot Thebarman, Spiritjim, $126 Grand Marshall.