Hartnell’s outstanding Spring Carnival form has swayed the all-powerful Godolphin stable to take on super mare Winx in the Group 1 $3m Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22.
The Godolphin Team also had the option of sending Hartnell to the Group 1 $3m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield on October 15, a race for which he was the second favourite at $4.40 following his three and a quarter lengths win in the Group 1 $500,000 Yellowglen Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington last Sunday.
“We’ve discussed his (Hartnell) next race with John Ferguson and the boss (Sheikh Mohammed) and the decision is that he will run in the Cox Plate,” Godolphin’s Australian managing director Henry Plumptre said.
“There is no particular reason, over and above the fact that we think it’s a nice race for him and he’s going very well over a mile and a quarter.”
Plumptre said that Hartnell was still listed among the Caulfield Cup third acceptances as a precaution but a decision to run in the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on the first Tuesday in November will be confirmed after the Cox Plate.
“He has a lovely weight (55kg) in the Caulfield Cup – we left him in that race till the last stage in case something went wrong with Scottish – and John Ferguson didn’t see that much sense running Sheikh Mohammed’s best European stayer against his best Australian stayer in the Caulfield Cup,” Plumtre said.
“Depending on what happens in the Cox Plate, we’ll see what happens after that race as to whether he goes onto the Melbourne Cup.”
Hartnell has delivered three devastating wins and prior to taking out the Turnbull Stakes, left his rivals standing with a seven and three quarter lengths win in the Group 2 $250,000 Tattersalls Club Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on September 3 followed by a five and three quarter lengths win in the Group 2 $200,000 Ascend Sales Trophies Hill Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on September 17.
Trainer John O’Shea said that Hartnell has pulled up in great order following his Turnbull Stakes win and was excited to be preparing him for the ‘Weight For Age Championship’ at Moonee Valley.
“You wouldn’t know he’s had a race, he’s in great nick, very happy with him.” O’Shea said.
“I’m very happy he is headed to the Cox Plate, it would be a great race to win for the boss and the team.”
Winx heads the market order for the Cox Plate at $2 with Ladbrokes.com.au just ahead of Hartnell who has firmed in to be the $3 second favourite with the French galloper Vadamos the next in the betting at $13.
Early Cox Plate market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $2 Winx, $3 Hartnell, $13 Vadamos, $15 Black Heart Bart, Lucia Valentina, $21 Divine Prophet, Hauraki, $26 The United States, Yankee Rose, $31 Tosen Stardom, Sacred Elixir, $41 Jameka, Palentino, Happy Trails, He’s Our Rokkii, Sir Isaac Newton, $51 or more the rest.