Golden Slipper winning jockey Tommy Berry has picked up another plum Autumn Carnival ride and will partner Hartnell in the Group 1 $1.6m Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick on April 11.
The Godolphin owned Hartnell jumped to the top of the Sydney Cup market order after producing two first class efforts at only two Australian starts and Berry is very pleased to be called upon to ride for the huge thoroughbred operation.
“Absolutely thrilled to be riding for Godolphin in a major race like this,” Berry told The Daily Telegraph.
“My first Group I winner was Epaulette in the (2012) Golden Rose for them when they were known out here as Darley.
“Hartnell is one of the most exciting horses in Australia at the moment. His debut run was huge, the form has held up better than anything and he’ll only improve as the distances increase.”
The English import came from well back in the field when second to stablemate Contributer in the Group 1 $500,000 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm on February 28 and followed that up with an effortless win in the Group 3 $150,000 Sky High Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on March 14.
Hartnell has been weighted on the minimum 52kg for the Sydney Cup, eliminating stable rider James McDonald who was aboard the four year old in the Sky High Stakes, giving Berry an excellent opportunity to record another Autumn Carnival Group 1 win.
Berry rode an inspired race on the Gai Waterhouse trained Vancouver at Rosehill last Saturday to win his second Group 1 $3.5m Tooheys New Golden Slipper Stakes (1200m) after scoring on Overreach in 2013.
Berry will be looking to win back to back Sydney Cups on the second day of ‘The Championships’ after steering The Offer to a runaway win last year and can see a lot of similarities in the John O’Shea trained Hartnell.
“The Sydney Cup, like a lot of these big staying handicaps, is a race that lends itself to the horse that hits a career peak just in time for the race,” Berry said.
“It usually means they escape the handicapper and that’s what The Offer did last year. He peaked right as the race came around.”
Hartnell will have his final Sydney Cup lead up run at Rosehill on Saturday in the Group 1 $1.5m The BMW (2400m) with McDonald in the saddle and is currently on the second line of betting at $3.40 behind the highly rated Japanese galloper To The World who heads the market order at $2.25.
In Sydney Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au Hartnell is the ruling favourite at $4.80 just ahead of last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist at $5 and the Chris Waller trained Who Shot Thebarman at $7.