Group 1 winner Hartnell will kick of his Metropolitan campaign when he takes on champion mare Winx in the Group 2 $250,000 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Trainer John O’Shea has selected the Group 1 $750,000 The Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick on October 1 as Hartnell’s Spring Carnival goal and is expecting the six year old to produce a bold first up effort against the country’s favourite race horse, Winx.
“He ran exceptionally well in a barrier trial last week and his work has been encouraging since,” O’Shea said.
“The Metropolitan is the race for him and it would be good to give him his chance to win another G1 this Spring.”
Hartnell joined the long list of Godolphin owned Group 1 winners when he carried the royal blue colours to victory in the Group 1 $1.5m The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill during the 2015 Sydney Autumn Carnival.
But the English import missed the chance to defend his BMW title when his 2016 Autumn Carnival campaign was cut shot due to injury, but O’Shea said that the gelding is in great shape heading into the Spring.
O’Shea has given Hartnell one official barrier trial in preparation for his return to the race track for an eighth to Smart Volatility over 850m at Randwick on July 29.
Hartnell was a well performed Group 3 winner in England when the Godolphin team decided to send him to Australia and O’Shea was able to turn him into a Group 1 winner during the 2015 Sydney Autumn Carnival at is first preparation down under.
At his first start on Australian soil, the Authorized gelding ran second to stablemate and fellow import Contributer in the Group 1 $500,000 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm and then broke through for a win in last year’s running of the Group 3 $150,000 Sky High Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill.
Hartnell was then sent out as one of the top fancies for The BMW before running fourth as favourite to Grand Marshal in the Group 1 $1.6m Schweppes 150th Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick on day two of ‘The Championships’.
Hartnell failed to fire during the 2015 Spring Carnival and ended his campaign with a fifteenth, beaten almost six lengths, to Prince Of Penzance in the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington.
Hartnell, with James McDonald in the saddle, has drawn barrier three in the seven horse Warwick Stakes field and is rated a $13 chance to end the winning streak of the Chris Waller trained Winx who heads the Ladbrokes.com.au market order at $1.35.
Winx is also resuming for the Spring, chasing her tenth straight win and is having her first run since claiming the Group 1 $3m The Star Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Randwick on April 2.
Market order for the Warwick Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au: $1.35 Winx, $5.50 Lucia Valentina, $8.50 Rebel Dane, $13 Hartnell, $31 Vanburgh, $71 Who Shot Thebarman, $126 Grand Marshall.