James McDonald expects his loyalty to Hartnell to be rewarded at some point during the autumn carnival, even if Winx has the import’s measure in the Chipping Norton Stakes.
Hartnell makes his return against Australia’s best racehorse on Saturday at Randwick after an indifferent spring campaign and McDonald will take the ride in preference to stablemates Magic Hurricane and Hauraki.
“He’s a horse I’ve stuck with all the way through and there’s no point jumping ship now,” McDonald said.
Hartnell made his Australian debut in last year’s race at Warwick Farm and he came from second last on the turn to get within a half length of Contributer, another Godolphin import.
The run laid a foundation for Hartnell’s only Group One win when he outstayed Japanese horse To The World at weight-for-age in the BMW.
But in five subsequent outings, Hartnell has been missing from the placings although it can be argued there was merit in his Cox Plate finish when fifth to Winx before a Melbourne Cup failure.
McDonald said Hartnell had shown enough in two recent barrier trials but warned the entire had also shaped equally as well before he was ridden on the speed when beaten first-up in the spring.
“His trials have been very pleasing but he trialled very well last preparation as well so hopefully he can take that to race day,” McDonald said.
“I’m sure he can, especially ridden a bit quieter first time out.
“I’m sure he will attack the line like he did in his first start in Australia.”
William Buick flies in from Dubai to take the ride on Group One Metropolitan winner Magic Hurricane while the Hauraki mount goes to Sam Clipperton.
Hauraki and Magic Hurricane will have a fitness edge over their stablemate after resuming in the Apollo Stakes to finish third and seventh respectively in a race that belonged to Winx.
Bookmakers have Hartnell as the only runner at single figures against Winx.
Winx has been odds-on since betting opened after nominations and the latest pin-up girl of Australian racing was made an even more dominant favourite after the barrier draw.
The winner of her past six starts stretching back to the Queensland winter carnival, Winx is a $1.40 chance with Hartnell at $8.
Chris Waller said he was a much more relaxed trainer ahead of the Chipping Norton than he was before the Apollo Stakes.
“It was a relief that she was able to come back and win and I’m definitely not as nervous this time,” he said.