Jockey James McDonald is confident that classy stayer Hartnell can lay a good account for himself, when he lines up alongside Winx in the 2016 Warwick Stakes (1400m) first-up on Saturday.
Hartnell has been a strong and consistent performer for Godolphin through his entire Australian tenure; undoubtedly peaking in condition through a 2015 Autumn Carnival campaign highlighted by success in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m).
Capable of a smart first-up performance, McDonald told Racing Victoria that he will look to a position within the small Warwick Stakes field with Hartnell; conceding champion mare Winx will prove tough to beat.
“The race is probably Winx’s for the taking but Hartnell is a quality horse as we know and he is coming along well,” McDonald said.
“I’d be reluctant to take up the running and push him forward in this small field first-up.
“Tactically it looks like it will be a tricky race because of the lack of runners so we will just have to see how it unfolds.”
McDonald has just returned from a successful stint riding abroad for Godolphin, and revealed he is slowly returning to peak riding condition leading into the 2016 Spring Carnival.
“I took a couple of weeks off and had a holiday in Europe and I’ve only been back in Sydney for a little over a week,” McDonald said.
“I’m at the same stage of my preparation as the horses I am riding.
“My weight is around 55.5 or 56kg and I don’t want to get too light too soon.
“It is a long spring ahead and I’ve got to time my run.
“I’m loving being back in Sydney and it is a great time to be returning because all the good horses are starting to fire up.”
Hartnell began his racing career under the guidance of notable British trainer Mark Johnston in 2013, and has posted a commendable seven wins and five minors through twenty-two appearances.
Allocated the ideal barrier 3, Hartnell has been charged with carrying 59kgs and is currently available at 2016 Warwick Stakes odds of $13 for success with leading online bookie Ladbrokes.com.au.
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