Hartnell confirms top rating with a fourth G1 win
Hartnell, the most accomplished horse in Godolphin’s Australian stable, placed himself among the best His Highness Sheikh Mohammed has raced in the country with a stunning victory in the G1 Epsom Handicap at Randwick on Saturday, 29 September.
Giving weight all round in a field of proven milers, Hartnell produced an irresistible, driving finish to grab the lead in the final stride and secure his fourth G1 win.
For trainer James Cummings the success was his sixth at the top level since becoming Godolphin’s head Australian trainer in mid-2017, and none has been greeted with more pride or emotion.
“It was a bold move to run him in the Epsom when he could have run at weight-for-age, today, but he’s a super horse,” Cummings said.
“It doesn’t just happen, it’s a massive team effort, great attention to detail. I can’t thank the staff enough.”
Hartnell had won the G1 CF Orr Stakes for Cummings in February, and hadn’t been successful since.
But the trainer didn’t despair, concluding the eight-year-old was best when kept fresh and at distances up to 1,600m.
“When he only got 57kg (9 stone) in the Epsom, we decided it was the better option than the 2000m race on the same program at weight-for-age,” he said.
“I’m sure Sheikh Mohammed would be very proud of one of the best horses he’s raced in Australia.”
As well as his four top-level wins, Hartnell has been placed in both the G1 Melbourne Cup and the G1 Cox Plate, two of Australia’s best races.
He has also had to contend with the world champion Winx who he has met seven times, finishing second to her four times.
But today Hartnell had Winx’s regular rider Hugh Bowman aboard – and the irony in his first G1 win for Godolphin wasn’t lost on him.
“I’m so proud, I can’t believe it,” Bowman said.
“I know I wear royal blue when I ride Winx, but I’m very proud to represent Godolphin and ride for Sheikh Mohammed in his colours.
“It means a great deal.”
Bowman had Hartnell quickly into stride and in a comfortable position in the first half of the field, moving to the outside as they fanned across the track at the 400m
At the 200m he seemed likely to win with something in hand, but the runner-up D’Argento fought back strongly, only giving up the lead a stride from the line.
Hartnell has now won almost A$5.5 million from his 13 wins and 15 placings and has been as high as fifth in official world rankings.
His previous G1 wins had come in the CF Orr Stakes at Caulfield, the Turnbull Stakes at Flemington and the BMW at Rosehill.