An early season weight-for-age race in Melbourne has been earmarked as Godolphin star Hartnell’s return to racing with the gelding expected to steer clear of champion Winx this spring.
Godolphin’s new head trainer in Australia, James Cummings, said Hartnell would resume in the Group Two P B Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 19.
The six-year-old raced 10 times this season for three wins, including the Group One Turnbull Stakes and had four second placings, three of those behind the world’s best horse on turf.
Winx beat Hartnell by eight lengths in the Cox Plate and he again had to play second fiddle to her in Sydney’s richest race of the autumn, the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
“We will kick him off in the P B Lawrence and we’ll just go from there,” Cummings told RSN927.
“We are going to try to stick to a path that she (Winx) is not necessarily going to be treading down, hopefully.
“I think that he looks to be in good shape. Reidy (Godolphin assistant Paul Reid) thinks that he looks as well as ever so that’s a positive thing to hear.
“He hasn’t won in six starts but I think if we can steer him into races where he’s not chasing home a ghost, I think he would certainly be a chance.”
The Turnbull Stakes is again likely to be a defining race for Hartnell’s campaign, determining whether he runs in the Caulfield Cup (2400m).
“He would probably get about 57 (kilograms),” Cummings said.
“But all things being equal, he would be our top seed for the race.
“We’re certainly going to think about it but we can probably decide that after Turnbull Stakes day. And that is exactly when we would know what we are doing there.”
Hartnell shares the top line of the Luxbet’s early market for the Caulfield Cup at $15 alongside New Zealander Gingernuts and Australian Cup winner Humidor.
Cummings began his role as Godolphin’s head trainer in Australia with a winner with his first runner, Manicure, at Warwick Farm on Saturday.