Craig Williams is banking on the grandson of an Australian racing legend to give him another Group One winner at Flemington.
Williams partners Hartnell in Saturday’s Australian Cup at Flemington for James Cummings whose grandfather, Bart Cummings, won the race a record 13 times.
The champion jockey expects Godolphin to have Hartnell at his peak as he strives for a second Group One win in three rides on the gelding.
“James is the grandson of Bart Cummings and he was always able to peak his horses on the day and this has always been Hartnell’s target race,” Williams said.
“Hopefully those genes shine through.”
While Williams ideally would like to see the track with a little cushion for Hartnell, he’s confident if the gelding brings his A-game he’ll be hard to beat.
With fine weather forecast that wish may be beyond Williams’ hopes, but the jockey points out Hartnell’s dry track statistics are good.
After winning first-up in the C F Orr Stakes at Caulfield on February 10, Hartnell was a last-start third at that track in the Peter Young Stakes two weeks later.
“There’s no doubt Flemington will be more to his liking but he still has to turn the tables on Gailo Chop and Single Gaze,” Williams said.
“James has had two weeks to work with him and I’m looking forward to seeing how he comes into the race on Saturday.
“He’s drawn well to get a nice run and if he runs to his best he’s the horse they have to beat.”
Following each of his Melbourne runs this campaign, Hartnell has returned to Godolphin’s base at Osborne Park north west of Sydney to further his preparation.
Cummings suggests the 2000m on Saturday is ideal for Hartnell.
“He’s performed strongly at his first two this time in and I feel that the horse has gone ahead since the Peter Young,” Cummings said.
“He was a little underdone going into that given that there was a Group One target coming up a couple of weeks later.
“To my eye he seems to have brightened up and worked really strongly.”
There has been a trickle of money for Hartnell who was on the fourth line of betting at $7.50 on Thursday, having firmed in from $8.
Gailo Chop held clear favouritism at $2.80 ahead of the Lloyd Williams pair of Almandin ($6) and The Taj Mahal ($7).