Hartnell makes a familiar return in G2 Lawrence Stakes

Mike Hedge
Mike Hedge

He’s the star of the team, the “old man” of the stable and one of the most capable, durable, versatile and honest horses to have raced in Australia in years.

Hartnell, a winner of eight Stakes races and almost $7 million, returns to racing in Saturday’s G2 PB Lawrence Stakes, a traditional spring launch pad, a race he won two years ago and one in which he finished second in 2018.

Having just turned nine, Hartnell (Hugh Bowman) is clearly the veteran of a field that includes Australia’s latest star filly, Mystic Journey.

But trainer James Cummings has no hesitation in sending him into battle.

“He’s shown us that he’s ready for another campaign and I have no doubt that he’s ready to run a good race,” Cummings said.

“Even though he’s a bit older now, he’s thriving.”

While Hartnell is likely to find this a tougher assignment than it has been for him, Cummings sees the Lawrence as a race that will help shape the horse’s spring campaign.

“I’m keen to see how far off Mystic Journey he is,” the trainer said.

“She’s the Cox Plate favourite and we’ll get a wonderful guide on where he stands.”

From Cummings and the entire Australian team, Hartnell receives the respect he deserves.

“He’s a veteran who loves the feeling of being boss,” Cummings said.

“Everyone loves him and he has a presence that makes the young horses actually look up to him.”