Imported galloper Hartnell is set to progress to the 2015 The BMW in a fortnight after he cruised to victory in the 2015 Sky High Stakes at Rosehill Gardens this afternoon.
Hartnell was extremely well-backed in the lead-up to the Sky High Stakes and jockey James McDonald did not want to take any chances on the short-priced favourite and he opted to press forward on the four-year-old in the early stages.
McDonald pulled Hartnell out three wide coming around the turn and he cruised effortlessly to the lead before he put away his rivals comfortable to score a strong win from Opinion, Hawkspur and Who Shot Thebarman.
The Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) was a possible option for Hartnell, but O’Shea elected to keep the Authorized gelding in Sydney for the easier target, but he said that the gelding will likely return to Group 1 level for the The BMW at Rosehill Gardens on March 28.
“The horse jumped well, he took his time to get across and he got into a beautiful position where he could dictate the race,” O’Shea said.
“I am still learning about him and I just wasn’t sure whether he would cope with the trip and the firmness of the ground.
“We got a little bit of rain in Sydney, which made me lean here and the fact that I don’t want to overtax him during the autumn.
“We will see how he pulls up and there is the option to run him in a fortnight and the option to run him in three weeks after.
“We will just be guided by how he pulls up and what we are happy with.”
McDonald was having his first race ride on Hartnell in the Sky High Stakes and he was most impressed with the way that the imported galloper put away his rivals when he was asked for an extra effort, but he feels that the talented gelding will be even better when he gets out to 2400 metres in The BMW.
“He is a very nice horse going forward and he is a horse that will obviously get better as the distances get longer,” McDonald said.
“He has a bright future heading into The BMW in a couple of weeks.
“He showed his tactical speed and he put them away really quickly.
“He got a little bit tired late, but he is going to improve from here.”
Hartnell was purchased by Godolphin in the spring of last year and he was having just his second race start in Australia after finishing second behind Contributer in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m).