Blue Army greybeard on march minus Winx
AS much as James Cummings covets Lawrence Stakes victory with Hartnell at Caulfield on Saturday, longer-range targets - and Mystic Journey - are in his sights.
With victory in 2017 and runner-up last year, nine-year-old Hartnell will tackle the Group 2 Lawrence (1400m) for the third time.
A top-four finish will shunt the high-class veteran's earnings over the $7 million mark, a feat achieved only by Winx, Redzel, Makybe Diva, Sunline, Northerly, Chautauqua, So You Think, Black Caviar, Buffering and Criterion.
But Hartnell's performance relative to Lawrence favourite Mystic Journey is of most interest to Cummings.
"This is his third time in the Lawrence, he's won it and run second in it, and he knows what's going on," Cummings said.
"Even though he's a bit older now, he's thriving.
"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.
"I'm keen to see how far off Mystic Journey he is.
"She's the Cox Plate favourite and we'll get a wonderful guide on where he stands."
Hartnell spearheads Cummings' team as he heads for a possible third Cox Plate assignment, having finished fifth (2015) and second ('16) in the race behind Winx.
"He's a veteran who loves the feeling of being boss," Cummings said.
"He has a presence that makes the young horses actually look up to him."
Cummings will send seven runners to Caulfield, spreading opportunities through three crack riders - Kerrin McEvoy, Hugh Bowman and Damian Lane.
Lane rides Gododin, while McEvoy partners Exhilarates, Haunted and Jorda.
Bowman takes the mount on Hartnell, Pin Sec and Bivouac.
Stream over 50 sports live & anytime on your TV or favourite device with KAYO SPORTS. The biggest Aussie sports and the best from overseas. Just $25/month. No lock-in contract. Get your 14-day free trial instantly.
KAH BACK TO PARTNER HARLEM
Fresh from a whirlwind visit to England, Jamie Kah will reunite with a career-shaping ally when she partners Harlem in the Group 2 Lawrence Stakes.
Dominant in South Australia, Kah's biggest win since crossing the border came aboard Harlem in March's Group 1 Australian Cup at Flemington.
"He's such a dude of a horse," Kah said.
"I rode him at his last start in Sydney against Winx (in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes) and the crowd was roaring and the ground was literally shaking.
"But he was fast asleep, so relaxed. He's so cool and just a nice horse to ride.''
David Hayes expects the 1400m Lawrence will be too short for the dual Australian Cup winner and Kah agrees.
"I galloped him Wednesday morning and he feels like a two-year-old bouncing around again,'' she said.
"No doubt he'll need further than this weekend, but he'll run well, he's working like a sprinter at the moment.''
Kah will also ride Douglas Macarthur in the 1600m Nitto Denko Handicap.
The Irish import is having his first run since finishing ninth in the English St Leger in September 2017 behind several horses now globally renowned, including Crystal Ocean, who finished second. Champion stayer Stradivarius was third and 2017 Melbourne Cup winner Rekindling fourth.
P.B LAWRENCE STAKES (1400m, WFA)
CAULFIELD RACE 8, 4.40pm
MYSTIC JOURNEY (No. 11)
Star Tasmanian mare who captured two feature races the Australian Guineas and the All-Star Mile at his her last two starts. Her trainer Adam Trinder has stated there's a lot of improvement to come from her with her goal the Cox Plate. She'll be giving her rivals a start, she's a slight query in the wet but she's a star.
HARTNELL (No. 1)
He's been a great horse for several years. He loves Caulfield 1400m fresh with a win and a second in this race plus a win in the 2018 Orr Stakes and a third in the Futurity Stakes this year. He also loves it wet and although he's nine (still eight in reality as he's a northern hemisphere horse) he's going to take a lot of beating.
CLIFF'S EDGE (No. 4)
Tough galloper who resumed with nice effort when third behind Scales of Justice. He's better suited over 1400m and he's adept on wet tracks. He's won four races at this track. He'll go forward and give a great sight.
FIFTY STARS (No. 5)
He's the wildcard as he's always shown the potential to be a star but he's also been a work in progress. Still he's won eight of 13. Looked good in a recent Flemington jump-out where he finished powerfully. No surprise to see him win.
KENEDNA (No. 9)
Quality mare who seemingly gets better with each campaign. Freshened after successful Queensland campaign so she should have some residual fitness. She's won three of her past four starts which includes two Group Ones and a group Two. Best work was late in a Caulfield jump-out.
Track: Soft 5
Rail: Out 10m
Slight query on how it will play out. CLIFF'S EDGE is the likely leader and HARTNELL is likely to stalk him. MYSTIC JOURNEY might settle closer as she will want to keep HARTNELL in her sights.
NEUFBOSC (No. 7)
Former high class French galloper making his Australian debut for Lindsay Park. He's a Group 1 placegetter. Finished on well in recent Cranbourne trial to finish second behind his stablemate and rival SIKANDARABAD (No. 6).
HARTNELL (No. 1)
"This is his third time in the Lawrence, he's won it and run second in it, and he knows what's going on. Even though he's a bit older now, he's thriving. 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."
A tricky betting race. Mystic Journey is under the odds at the moment. Expect bookies to take her on and she might get out longer than the $2 on offer. Be patient and wait to see whether she can get out to $2.50 or better. Hartnell is $4.20 which looks about the right odds. Expect him to firm. Fifty Stars could be worth a speck bet at $9.
- MYSTIC JOURNEY
- Cliff's Edge
- Fifty Stars