Hartnell returns to Sydney after brilliant G1 success

Mike Hedge

Godolphin’s grand campaigner Hartnell is back at Osborne Park after his stunning G1 CF Orr Stakes win at Caulfield on Saturday, but the return to home base doesn’t necessarily mean he will be having his next start in Sydney.

Trainer James Cummings announced after the Orr that Hartnell could be switched from Melbourne to Sydney for the G1 Chipping Norton Stakes at Randwick on Saturday, 3 March.

But he warned that Hartnell’s return to Osborne Park was part of his training routine, rather than a clue as to where he would have his next start, which could still be in Melbourne.

“We brought Hartnell back to Osborne Park because he’s a horse who loves to be turned out after his training, and we get the opportunity to do that up here,” he said.

“That gives me every chance to get him big and round and bouncing around before his next start.

“We’ve got plenty of options on the table and we haven’t locked in anything yet because we need to see how he recovers from that big, first-up performance.

“If it hasn’t taken too much out of him we give ourselves every chance of determining his next target.”

Hartnell’s Orr Stakes victory was the crowning achievement of a weekend that produced five winners for the stable, with Kementari winning the G3 Eskimo Prince Stakes at Warwick Farm, where Beijing Board also won.

Godolphin was also successful with Old North in Brisbane and Connoisseur at Kembla Grange.

“The Godolphin stables in Australia had a great weekend, one of the better weekends you could experience in a season,” Cummings said.

“It was great that the racing operations in Sydney and Melbourne could come together and get their fingerprints on Hartnell to produce this big performance first up. 

“One of the exciting things about it is that it’s only February and the beginning of the autumn carnival.”

As impressive as Hartnell was, he didn’t take anything away from Kementari who scored an equally brilliant first-up victory at Warwick Farm.

“We don’t have a more exciting three-year-old colt than Kementari who made a mess of his opposition in the Eskimo Prince Stakes,” Cummings said.

“He will have one more run and then have the G1 Randwick Guineas clearly in his sights.

Cummings has also announced that in-form Melbourne jockey Mark Zahra has been booked to ride Plague Stone in the G1 Blue Diamond Stakes at Caulfield on 24 February.

Plague Stone ran a commendable second in the Blue Diamond Prelude last Saturday after being caught wide throughout. 

“Plague Stone left an indelible mark despite being beaten,” his trainer said.

“To be able to keep on surging to the line despite enduring a wide run was a really great pointer to his chances of going one better when he gets to the Blue Diamond.

Plague Stone is expected to be joined in the Diamond by Encryption, who will be ridden by Damian Lane who ran so well the previous week while Astoria remains in Melbourne for the Australian Guineas after also running a great race last week at Caulfield when third in the G3 Autumn Stakes.