Hart­nell looks ready for a tri­umphant Caulfield re­turn

The Sportsman Weekend - - News - SHAYNE O’CASS

THE last time James McDon­ald donned the Royal Blue and was legged aboard Hart­nell two Mel­bourne Cups ago when they fin­ished third to Al­mandin.

Less than two weeks be­fore that, the Hart­nell/McDon­ald pair were eight lenghts be­hind Winx in her first of three Cox Plate wins.

Be­fore that of course, Hart­nell and McDon­ald were a hot duo in rac­ing. Not quite Bow­man and Winx stature, but with con­sec­u­tive wins in the Chelms­ford, Hill then Turn­bull Stakes by a com­bined mar­gin of over 16-len, Winx had a chal­lenger.

Or so it seemed.

Fast for­ward to to­mor­row and McDon­ald takes over from the Ever­est-com­mit­ted Hugh Bow­man who steered the Toorak top­weight to some­thing of a sur­prise win in the Group 1 ATC Ep­som Hand­i­cap (1600m) at Royal Rand­wick.

Hart­nell’s vic­tory was a tri­umph for trainer James Cum­mings who has been able to sharpen the now eight-year-olds fo­cus by train­ing him as a 1400m/miler, and more im­por­tantly, keep­ing his safe dis­tance away from Winx.

“It was a care­ful choice that we made to run in this rather than the Caulfield Stakes, but he’s re­sponded so well to be­ing kept to

shorter trips that I had go with our gut feel­ing,” Cum­mings said.

“Stay­ing at 1600m for now looks per­fect lead­ing up to a race like the Group 1 Can­tala Stakes at Flem­ing­ton later in the car­ni­val.

“We’ve been de­lighted with the way he’s come through that ef­fort and we’ll pro­ceed to the Toorak Hand­i­cap now, de­spite him hav­ing to carry the penalty for win­ning the Ep­som,”

“He’s back up to 59kg, but I think that against those horses he’s very ca­pa­ble of be­ing com­pet­i­tive with them at that weight.

“He’ll en­joy get­ting back to Caulfield where he’s still got quite a good record,” he added.

Hart­nell’s record at Caulfield is six starts for two wins, two sec­onds and a third.

One of Hart­nell’s main ri­vals in to­mor­row’s Group 1 MRC Toorak Hand­i­cap (1600m) comes from within the Godol­phin string in Jun­gle Cat.

The Ir­ish-bred en­tire made it back-to-back dual hemi­sphere Group 1s when he showed his fight­ing qual­i­ties in the Ru­pert Clarke at Caulfield, first-up from win on Dubai World Cup night in the Al Quoz Sprint.

Jun­gle Cat has raced 32 times but makes his mile de­but at Group 1 level this week­end.

“I thought the way he ran last time that 1600m is go­ing to suit him even bet­ter,” trainer Char­lie Ap­pleby said.

“James Doyle is back to take the ride again which a big pos­i­tive. They know each other well.”

“He’ll en­joy get­ting back to Caulfield where he’s still got quite a good record.” JAMES CUM­MINGS

Trainer James Cum­mings has taken care plot­ting Hart­nell’s spring cam­paign.

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