Sheikh Mohammed's goal for Godolphin to be in contention in the world’s biggest races will be realised yet again in Australia next Tuesday, when Hartnell runs in the Melbourne Cup.
Godolphin Australia's head trainer, James Cummings, confirmed today that Hartnell would line up in the A$6 million event after an endorsement from Sheikh Mohammed. The opportunity to win the Melbourne Cup will follow a weekend in which Godolphin’s royal blue silks will be prominent across a range of races at the Breeders Cup at Del Mar, California.
Hartnell, who finished third in last year’s Melbourne Cup, has the topweight of 57.5kg on Tuesday, and his trainer is convinced he is again a worthy prospect.
“To have a Melbourne Cup runner for Sheikh Mohammed is a great honour and is also a credit to our team here in Australia who have got Hartnell to a level where he is a genuine contender,” Cummings said.
Hartnell convinced the team his Cup credentials were in order with an impressive gallop at Flemington on Tuesday.
The British-bred 7-year-old won first-up in his current campaign at G2 level and then finished second twice at G1 before suffering severe interference behind Gailo Chop in the G1 Caulfield Stakes last month.
“He’s been racing a bit like a handicapper at his last couple of starts and the form around him is very strong,” Cummings said.
“The form from the Makybe Diva Stakes and the Underwood Stakes and Caulfield Stakes, in which he’s run well, has been the best of the spring. Humidor showed, with his run behind Winx in the Cox Plate, that it’s as good a form reference as you’ll find. So there’s a lot to like about how Hartnell has been coming through.”
Hartnell is a winner in England over the 3200m (two miles) of the Melbourne Cup and has run in the Flemington feature for the past two years.
“He only had a 12-day break between those runs after racing in the Cox Plate. This time he’s got a nice gap between runs which I think will do him a lot of good,” Cummings said. Hartnell did not run in the Cox Plate this year.
Hartnell's work over 1600m yesterday pleased Cummings and Cup jockey Damian Lane. “I was delighted with him, Damian thought he felt great, he’s nice and bright and alert,” the trainer said.
“We are going to the Cup with a horse who puts himself into his races, whose form is sound and who can run 3,200 metres.”