Alizee and Hartnell ready to show All-Star class at Flemington
Both horses are among the leading contenders for a race billed as the richest turf mile in the world and one that is built on a concept previously untested in Australia.
For trainer James Cummings, the situation could hardly be better with Alizee arriving at Flemington off a strong G1 Futurity Stakes win in which she had Hartnell a length behind in third place.
“We’re delighted with the way they’re coming into the race,” Cummings said.
“They’re in solid shape and both have a really strong foundation, so they have the opportunity to absorb those top efforts they delivered in the Futurity three weeks ago.”
“They look perfect for the weekend.”
While Hartnell is a G1 winner at Flemington, his stablemate will be having her first start at the track, and as a result, Cummings gave her a race day gallop at the track last weekend with Saturday’s rider Hugh Bowman up, and the result added to his confidence.
“Hugh was able to appreciate the feel of her that he doesn’t normally get, just he and her, they were able to connect that little bit more,”
“Although he’s unbeaten on her this campaign, I was very pleased to hear the positivity and the confidence he was exuding after the gallop.”
In a race composed of 10 horses chosen by public ballot and four selected by racing authorities, Hartnell is the second-string of the Godolphin pair, but as a G1 winner at the 1,600m of the All-Star Mile, he can’t be overlooked.
The eight-year-old is the winner of 13 races and since being transformed by Cummings from a Melbourne Cup aspirant into a sprinter-miler, he has raced with extraordinary vigour and desire.
Hartnell will be ridden by William Buick who first partnered him when they finished second in the Lingfield Derby Trial of 2014. Buick’s only other ride on the gelding resulted in a second to Winx in the G1 Ranvet Stakes at Rosehill in 2017.
Cummings welcomed his booking for Hartnell.
“William is a contracted rider to Godolphin and on the big stage it’s pretty important that he gets his opportunity to ride horses like this for Sheikh Mohammed,” Cummings said
“I can picture him riding Hartnell very well.”
Both fillies have raced once and both in country class where they performed well, Varda being successful at Bendigo and Flit finishing fourth at the same track.
“Varda was an impressive debut winner and I think she’s capable of improving again."
“I think both horses arrive at this race in good order and with plenty of maturing to do for next season.”