Australian Racing: The Return of Hartnell
from Mike Hedge at Godolphin
Godolphin’s highest-ranked Australian runner Hartnell makes a seasonal debut at Caulfield on Saturday that should give a strong guide to the major Spring targets ahead of a horse rated among the world’s top ten.
Hartnell (James Cummings/Craig Williams) resumes an “all-Melbourne” campaign against high-class opposition in the G2 P B Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield
While his ultimate goal for this season is yet to be confirmed, trainer James Cummings is satisfied the seven-year-old is capable of running up to his form of last Spring which yielded a string of victories in Sydney a G1 success in Melbourne and placings in the G1 Cox Plate and G1 Melbourne Cup.
“On dry tracks in Melbourne this Spring I’m looking forward to him again producing his best,” Cummings said.
Hartnell, who has been in Melbourne for almost a month, travelled from his Flemington stable to Caulfield this week to gain experience on a track he’s not previously raced on.
“He hadn’t been to Caulfield so we took him there for a gallop on Tuesday and all the reports were good,” he said.
“He handled the track well and enjoyed it. It was also good to give him a little float trip to take him out of his comfort zone.”
Hartnell’s opposition in Saturday’s 1400m race includes the former world No.1 sprinter Lankan Rupee, the classy Black Heart Bart, the French middle-distance runner Gailo Chop and former Japanese galloper Tosen Stardom.
Cummings said of Veranillo: “This horse has really got something.”
“He put a lot into his Autumn campaign but has come back very well. I’d like to see him run a big, positive race first up.
“Souchez is a horse who will really have benefitted from the rest he was given in the Autumn.
“He’s a beautiful horse and he’s ready to run well first up.”
An impressive gallop at Caulfield on Tuesday morning has Hartnell primed for his return to racing at the same track in Saturday’s G2 PB Lawrence Stakes.
Hartnell, the second-highest ranked Godolphin runner in the IFHA world rankings, moved off from the 1400m and was kept on the bridle as he moved through his gears in a piece of work designed to familiarise him with the Caulfield layout.
Assistant trainer David Charles who heads the Melbourne arm of Godolphin’s Australian operation, said the outing on the course proper had achieved all that head trainer James Cummings had ordered.
“James just wanted him to have a look around because he’d not been to Caulfield before,” Charles said.
“He handled it all without any trouble and his work was first class. He got into a beautiful rhythm and was on the right leg all the way around.”
While the 1400 metres of Saturday’s race is short of Hartnell’s best distance, he has shown throughout the Australian stage of his career that he can produce his form early in a preparation.
“We’re looking for a nice first-up effort on Saturday, he’s ready to run well, but his targets are still a little way down the track.”
Hartnell, who will be ridden by premier Melbourne jockey Craig Williams, last raced in April when second to Winx in the G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick having also been runner-up behind the champion mare when first-up over 1400m three starts earlier.
His last win came in the G1 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington last Spring, a run which was followed by placings in the G1 Cox Plate and the G1 Melbourne Cup.
The seven-year-old has been in Melbourne for three weeks with the team giving him every chance to settle in and prepare for a campaign that will continue in next month’s G1 Makybe Diva Stakes, the G1 Turnbull Stakes and, possibly, the G1 Caulfield Cup.
Hartnell holds a ranking of 123 in the August IFHA list, with only Ribchester (124) above him among Godolphin-owned runners worldwide.
Also at Caulfield on Tuesday, the colts Veranillo and Souchez galloped on the course proper in preparation for their resumption at Saturday’s meeting.
Veranillo runs in the G3 Vain Stakes and Souchez in the Listed Regal Roller Stakes.
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