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Hartnell Pleases O'Shea With Valley Gallop
Cox Plate contender Hartnell reacquainted himself with the Moonee Valley circuit when galloping there Tuesday morning, reports Godolphin.com. Hartnell last appeared at the Melbourne course a year ago when finishing fifth behind superstar mare Winx in the Cox Plate that was run in race record time. While his trainer John O’Shea acknowledges Hartnell needs to find many lengths to get on terms with Winx, he believes his horse has made sufficient improvement to at least be competitive. “Everything’s gone right so far this season, whereas last year everything went wrong,” O’Shea said. Hartnell (Authorized-Debonnaire, by Anabaa) has emerged as the horse most likely to challenge Winx's standing as Australia's best racehorse, following outstanding victories in the Gr2 Chelmsford Stakes, Gr2 Hill Stakes, and Gr1 Turnbull Stakes, which have yielded a combined winning margin of 16.9 lengths. “It did him good to come over here and have a look and stretch his legs a little because he’s had a relatively easy time since the Turnbull,” O’Shea said. “The Cox Plate is an extremely strong race, I don’t think it’s a two horse race by any means. Winx is a champion but others, like Lucia Valentina is a great mare and I think she’s going to be very effective here at Moonee Valley. And three-year-old fillies who can win a Spring Champion Stakes like Yankee Rose did, that’s a wonderful achievement." O'Shea added: "The enormity of the task is not lost on us, we’re under no illusion as to the strength of the race. It’s a vintage year to say the least.” The 96th running of the Gr1 WS Cox Plate (2040m) will be run at Moonee Valley on Saturday week (22 October).