Dubai: Hartnell begins a new campaign in style by winning the Group 1 CF Orr Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday.
The star of Godolphin’s Australian team from the time he arrived from the UK in late 2014, Hartnell has won six times in his adopted country, with two of his victories coming at Group 1 level.
He now looks set for an eighth clash with Australian wondermare, Winx, in Sydney in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on March 3.
Ridden by Craig Williams, Hartnell staved off a late charge from Single Gaze to win by a short-head with Brave Smash a nose away in third.
“The horse does sprint very well on the fresh side and I do like the idea of keeping him fresh,” trainer James Cummings said.
“I won’t lock in any plans today because I don’t want to disappoint anyone, but I know where my preferences lie.
Winx has beaten Hartnell at all seven of their clashes with Hartnell four times being the runner-up.
Saturday’s victory was Hartnell’s 12th victory from 38 starts and it took his earnings to more than $4.7 million racing.com reported.
Hartnell has run in an English classic and was a winner at Royal Ascot.
Prior to the Orr Stakes, Cummings said he was ready as ever to produce his best.
“He looks good and he’s feeling well, I think he’s in really good shape,” Cummings said.
“What I like is that he is carrying good condition into Saturday’s race. When he’s got that bit of condition on him, I feel that he races very well,
“His win in the Lawrence was probably his best performance last time.
Cummings has in mind the A$4 million G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick in April for Hartnell, but he acknowledges that the seven-year-old has campaigned well over several seasons and he will always be conscious of the horse’s best interests.