Hartnell set to take on top field in return
GODOLPHIN star Hartnell is set for a return to racing in Saturday's Group Two Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Randwick after two solid barrier trial placings.
A winner of the Group One The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill in March, Hartnell could take on a smart field which includes the Chris Waller-trained Kermadec.
The Doncaster Mile winner from last season is back to his pet distance after a solid return when beaten two lengths by Royal Descent in the Warwick Stakes over 1400m at Randwick on August 22.
The Gai Waterhouse-trained Pornichet finished second in that race, and the former European galloper would also be suited by the extra 200m if he lined up in the Chelmsford.
Kermadec streaked away from Real Impact and Royal Descent in the Doncaster, and his solid fifth in the Warwick Stakes should have topped him off nicely for a second-up victory on Saturday.
The John O'Shea-trained Hartnell looked a real superstar in the making at his first Australian campaign in the autumn.
He opened with a brilliant second to high-quality stablemate Contributer in the Group One Chipping Norton Stales (1600m) at Warwick Farm in February, before taking out the Group Three Sky High Stakes (2000m) and the BMW, both at Rosehill in March with James McDonald in the saddle.
McDonald rode the five-year-old in both his recent trials, the first when second to Vashka over 836m at Rosehill on August 10, and again when third behind Cafe Society and Hooked over 1250m at Randwick on August 21.
O'Shea is yet to reveal the spring targets for Hartnell, although he is very prominent in the betting for the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup.
Warwick Stakes winner Royal Descent has also been nominated for the Chelmsford Stakes, and the super-consistent six-year-old mare, owned by businessman Gerry Harvey, could easily go on with the job.
- APN SPORTS BUREAU