The unfortunate injury sustained by Godolphin jockey James Doyle forced trainer John O’Shea to seek a substitute for Hartnell in Saturday’s G1 Chipping Norton Stakes at Randwick.
O’Shea turned immediately to ever-reliable Brenton Avdulla, who is certainly not one to be fazed by another clash with Australia’s highest-rated horse, Winx.
“I’m just going to go out there and enjoy it,” was Avdulla’s philosophical approach. “I’m looking forward to the ride,” he added.
And, who wouldn’t be, aboard the Godolphin flagship, who again gallantly filled second place behind Winx in the recent G2 Apollo Stakes? Hartnell’s run was very good and a sign he has returned for this campaign as well as ever.
But there could easily have been a second big jockey change following racing at Sha Tin, Hong Kong, on Sunday. Hugh Bowman, Winx’s regular partner, received a 3-day suspension for careless riding aboard Dinozzo, seventh home in the Hong Kong Classic Cup.
Hong Kong’s well-spaced racing calendar — they race only twice a week, on average — means that Bowman will be on the sidelines for days when there is racing in Hong Kong during the period from March 1 to March 9.
Fortunately for Bowman, he will be able to partner Winx as she attempts her 15th consecutive win on Saturday. The brilliant mare, a daughter of the former Darley stallion Street Cry, is expected to be even more formidable as she steps up to a distance in her comfort zone.
Sunday’s Sha Tin meeting uncovered two potential Hong Kong Derby contenders, both trained by John Moore.
Rapper Dragon, an Australian-bred son of Street Boss, landed the second leg of the local four-year-old Triple Crown and gave every indication that he will easily run out the 2,000-metre distance of the Derby next month.
But two others in that race caught the eye from a Derby perspective — runner-up Pakistan Star and fourth home Eagle Way, who were both finishing off their races very strongly and will appreciate the extra 200m of the forthcoming classic.
Moore’s other potential Derby horse is Booming Delight, who overcame a slow start to come from last and land a handicap, over 2,000m.
In Melbourne on Saturday, old-timer Terravista, who comes from one of the best female lines in Australasia, got up in the last stride to land the G1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes at Flemington. He will now be aimed at The Everest, Sydney’s new A$10m sprint modelled on The Pegasus, recently won by Arrogate in Florida.