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Hartnell lining up for a second G1 Turnbull Stakes victory

Mike Hedge

The renowned durability of Godolphin’s grand performer Hartnell will be demonstrated again when he runs in his 32nd G1 race in the Turnbull Stakes at Flemington on Saturday.

Hartnell (Brad Rawiller) ran a slashing fourth in the G1 Underwood Stakes over 1,800m at Caulfield last Sunday, giving the clear impression that he would be suited by the extra 200m of the Turnbull.

After careful examination of the Caulfield run and of the horse, trainer James Cummings decided to back up the horse at Flemington.

“We had this race on the radar all along and after his run in the Underwood, we’ve given careful thought to running. If there was any doubt at all about him backing up, we wouldn’t be asking him to run,” Cummings said.

“The Underwood was a race that was devoid of pace and pressure and he didn’t have a hard run.

“He finished it off well over the last half mile, suggesting he was ready for a bit more ground.”

Like so many of Australia’s middle-distance features, Hartnell has won the Turnbull, producing one of his greatest performances in the 2016 renewal.

On the same Flemington card, Cummings is looking to guarantee a G1 Melbourne Cup start for Etymology (Craig Williams) by winning the G3 Bart Cummings.

Avilius won this race last year to earn a start in the Melbourne Cup and while he’s no Avilius, the same thinking applies with Etymology,” Cummings said.

Etymology has shown an affinity for Flemington, winning twice at the course last preparation.

Cummings is also expecting strong showings from Pohutukawa (Brad Rawiller) and Savatiano (Ben Melham) who run in the G2 Blazer Stakes.

Pohutukawa raced well during the summer where she ended her campaign with a luckless second in the Queensland Guineas.

“Her first-up run was very encouraging and I’m banking on her taking lots of improvement from it,” Cummings said.

Savatiano finished just behind her stablemate in the Queensland Guineas and was second in this race last year.

“She’s hardly run a bad race since then and her win in the G3 in Queensland this winter was very good,” Cummings said.

Godolphin will mark the running of the first juvenile feature of the season in Melbourne, the Darley Maribyrnong Trial, with the appearance of the regally-bred colt Jerle.

A son of Exceed And Excel, Jerle is out of Shannara, a sister to the champion racehorse and sire Lonhro.

“He’s a very forward type of colt, beautifully bred and a wonderful style of young horse,” Cummings said.