Australian Racing: Hartnell is Back
All the signs of a Spring to savour were revealed on Saturday as Godolphin’s Australian flag-bearer Hartnell returned to racing in impeccable order to brilliantly win the G2 PB Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield.
Hartnell always had control of the race, asserting himself with 200m to run and cruising clear without being pressured to beat Charmed Harmony by 2-1/4 lengths.
The high-class performer Black Heart Bart finished third, a further short half-head away.
Trainer James Cummings said Hartnell had lived up to the G1 form he has shown throughout his Australian career and offered the promise of another outstanding Spring.
“That was a very impressive, bold run,” Cummings said.
“It was a serious weight-for-age return that suggests he’s in for a strong campaign.”
The win of Hartnell, Australia’s second-highest ranked racehorse, came within 30 minutes of another magnificent performance by the country’s No.1, the world champion mare Winx, who recorded her 18th successive win at Randwick.
Hartnell had finished second to Winx three times in his previous four starts before Saturday, but is unlikely to race against the mare this season.
While Cummings hasn’t finalised Hartnell’s Spring program, it is expected to be confined to Melbourne tracks, with the seven-year-old’s next start set for the G1 Makybe Diva Stakes over 1600m at Flemington on September 16.
Having performed so well at Caulfield in the Lawrence, consideration can now be given to the G1 Caulfield Stakes and, possibly, the G1 Caulfield Cup.
As impressive as the victory was, winning rider Craig Williams suggested Hartnell had plenty of room for improvement.
“He was on the wrong leg for a fair way, but I didn’t try to fight him because he was going too well for the others,” Williams said.
“He’s an amazing, adaptable horse who was a pleasure to ride. There’s no doubt he’s very high-class horse who looks to have a great campaign ahead of him.”
Hartnell settled behind the leader, Charmed Harmony, with Williams easing him off that horse’s heels at the 400m and sending him to the front 200m from home.
In the final 100m he opened up and was unopposed in the run to the line.