O’Shea Pleased with Hartnell Ahead of 2017 Apollo Stakes

January 31st, 2017

Trainer John O’Shea has not given up hope that star import Hartnell will deliver champion mare Winx her first defeat for close to two years when the pair clash several times during the forthcoming 2017 Autumn Carnival, which will include a meeting in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m) first-up on February 11th.

Hartnell will return to racing in the 2017 Apollo Stakes on Saturday week. Photo: Steve Hart

Hartnell will return to racing in the 2017 Apollo Stakes on Saturday week. Photo: Steve Hart

Hartnell has been a strong and consistent performer for O’Shea since arriving prior to the 2015 Autumn Carnival, but undoubtedly found career-best form to date through the 2016 Spring Carnival in which he finished second to Winx in each of the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) and Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m).

Hartnell performed well in a Randwick barrier trial under the steerage of James Doyle last Friday and O’Shea is confident he is ready to run well first-up in the Apollo Stakes 2017, as well as hopeful that he will be able to win a nice race en route to the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) during The Championships.

“James was pretty excited with him,” O’Shea told The Daily Telegraph.

“He jumped well, he relaxed and he’s pulled up tremendous.

“Hopefully we can pick something up on the way through. He’s been such a tremendous horse for us.

“As much as he’s got a turn of foot, he seems to be better off on bigger, more-spacious tracks where he can get into a nice rhythm.

“But he runs well wherever he goes.”

Hartnell began his racing tenure under the guidance of notable British trainer Mark Johnston in 2013 and has subsequently posted a commendable career total of ten wins and eight minors, through twenty-eight competitive appearances.

Progressing to a dominant eight-length in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) following his Warwick Stakes resumption in spring, the Authorized gelding repeated the dose in the Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m) before claiming a second career win at the highest level in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m).

Running eight lengths off Winx in the Cox Plate, Hartnell was last seen running well for third behind Almandin and Heartbreak City in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (32000m) on November 1st.