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Global Weekly Review: Winx absence brings Hartnell closer to stardom

J A McGrath

Following the spectacular seven-and-threequarter-length win of Godolphin's Hartnell in Saturday's G2 Chelmsford Stakes at Randwick, it might have been excusable for occasional "wish Winx had turned up" sentiments to have been aired.

After all, the ease with which the one-time Royal Ascot winner kicked his opposition aside tempted many to believe he could have beaten Australia's undisputed Queen Of The Turf on the day, in any case.

Winx was scratched from the Chelmsford when the going indicator was lurching more vigorously towards the top end of the scale -- a sure sign that a mud bath threatened.

But Hartnell's trainer John O'Shea was not one who ever felt an opportunity had been missed. He was relieved that the Godolphin runner had triumphed -- and come home a fresh horse afterwards.

"I'm really happy the way it has turned out," O'Shea said. "If Winx had run, Hartnell would have had a hard race, that's for certain. But instead, he's come back, eaten up, and now we can look forward to the G2 Hill Stakes on September 17, and the G1 Metropolitan (in October)," he added.

Hartnell is currently on his third campaign for O'Shea since being sent to Australia after a three-year-old season in Britain, in which he won the two-mile Listed Queen's Vase and finished 7th in the G1 St Leger at Doncaster.

"I'm really happy with him," O'Shea said. "He's developed into a very good weight-for-age horse. We've worked him out. You learn more about them, the longer they are with you," he explained.

There is no doubt Hartnell appreciates soft-ish going, and with this in mind, O'Shea is focusing long-range on next year's G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick in April. "If it means having a lighter Spring this year, and not going to Melbourne, that's how it will be," he said.

Also, the likelihood of missing fast ground with Hartnell south of the border is not unappealing to the trainer.

Hauraki won the G2 Tramway Stakes on the same Randwick card to cap a great day in Sydney for Godolphin, though globally the stable had a mixed weekend.

The Saeed bin Suroor-trained Move Up won the G2 Bosphorus Cup at Valiefendi, Turkey, and Show Day chalked up a listed race success at Baden-Baden, Germany. But, at Saratoga, New York State, Frosted suffered a surprise defeat in the G1 Woodward Stakes.

Trainer KIaran McLaughlin reported that plans for Frosted will be discussed by John Ferguson, Jimmy Bell and himself -- with input from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed -- at the forthcoming sales at Keeneland.

A decision on a Breeders' Cup target for Frosted will be taken.

Frosted was beaten two heads into third in an exciting finish to the Woodward, but the grey son of Tapit failed to get a position close to the leaders early in the race.

"Missing the break was the key to the whole thing," McLaughlin explained. "It meant not being on the bridle like you want, and everything snowballed from there.
"Also, it looked bad because Joel (Rosario, the jockey) didn't hit him with the whip (Frosted has resented the whip in the past). He was the best horse in the race, so it's disappointing for all of us that he got beaten. But we'll march on from this," he added.