Trainer John O’Shea has confirmed that the 2015 Melbourne Cup will be the major Spring Racing Carnival for imported stayer Hartnell.
Hartnell was purchased by Godolphin after he finished seventh behind Kingston Hill in the Group 1 Ladbrokes St Leger Stakes (2937m) at Doncaster on September 13 last year and he impressed onlookers with his performance in two barrier trials at Warwick Farm on January 27 and February 9.
The Authorized gelding made his Australian racing debut in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm on February 28 and he savaged the line in the final stages to finish second behind stablemate Contributer before he proved that win was no fluke when he cruised to victory in the Group 3 Sky High Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 14.
Hartnell claimed a maiden win at the highest level of racing with an upset victory over Japanese start To The World in the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 28 and he went into the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Royal Randwick on April 11 as a dominant favourite, but he tired badly in the final stages to miss the placings.
O’Shea said that he believes the Sydney Cup result could have been much different if Harntell was not forced to lead in the early stages of the race and he told Racing Ahead that the four-year-old had taken plenty of benefit out of his stint in the spelling paddock.
“He has really improved and strengthened up,” O’Shea said.
“If we had our time over again we would have just taken a little sit coming out of the straight for the first time in the Sydney Cup and we might have had a different result.”
The Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) was considered a likely spring target for Hartnell in the spring, but O’Shea revealed this morning that the staying event was not on the agenda for The BMW winner and he is set to return to the races in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on September 5 before contesting the Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m) at the same venue on September 19, the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 4 and the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 24 before he runs in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 3.
“He looks to have improved nicely and we will keep him in Sydney for as long as we can and then he will head down to Melbourne in September and have a couple of runs down there,” O’Shea said.
Hartnell is currently available at 2015 Melbourne Cup odds of $17 and he is on the second line of betting with Ladbrokes behind Japanese stayer Fame Game ($13).