Hartnell Returns in G1 CF Orr Stakes at Caulfield
Hartnell begins a new campaign in the G1 CF Orr Stakes at Caulfield on 10 February with as much confidence and faith behind his prospects as ever and with another lofty goal ahead of him.
The star of Godolphin’s Australian team from the time he arrived from the UK in late 2014, Hartnell has won six times in his adopted country, two of his victories coming at G1 level.
He has also been placed in three of Australia’s richest races. The G1 Melbourne Cup, the G1 WS Cox Plate and the G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes, in the latter two only the world champion mare Winx got past him.
Hartnell has run in an English classic, he’s a winner at Royal Ascot, at his best he was among the top 10-ranked horses in the world and he’s earned almost A$4.5million.
Now into his eighth preparation at the age of seven, trainer James Cummings says he’s as ready as ever to produce his best.
“He looks good and he’s feeling well, I think he’s in really good shape,” Cummings said.
Hartnell has always performed well when fresh and began his previous campaign last August with a win over the same Caulfield 1400m course of Saturday’s race in the G2 PB Lawrence Stakes.
“What I like is that he is carrying good condition into Saturday’s race. When he’s got that bit of condition on him, I feel that he races very well,” Cummings said.
“His win in the Lawrence was probably his best performance last time in and although Craig might have to make use of him from his wide gate, I think he can run really well.”
While Hartnell has avoided Winx by racing in Melbourne, he is confronted by a strong field made up of fit sprinters and resuming middle-distance types who like him are headed for races longer than the Orr Stakes.
Among the sprinters are Thronum, Mr Sneaky and Brave Smash who finished first, second and fifth respectively in last month’s G2 Australia Stakes.
The leading contenders among the rest include last year’s Orr winner Black Heart Bart, the former Japanese runner Tosen Stardom and G1 Caulfield Cup runner-up Single Gaze.
Cummings has in mind the A$4 million G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick in April for Hartnell, but he acknowledges that the seven-year-old has campaigned well over several seasons and he will always be conscious of the horse’s best interests.