The goal of Godolphin’s founder His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for his stable to be in contention in the world’s biggest races will be realised yet again in Australia when Hartnell runs in next week’s G1 Melbourne Cup.
Following the endorsement from Sheikh Mohammed, Australian head trainer James Cummings confirmed on Wednesday that Hartnell would line up in the A$6 million race that has been the centrepiece of the country’s racing calendar for more than 150 years.
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 meeting 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 seven-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.
“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 that 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 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 worked over 1600m on Tuesday morning, pleasing 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.”