Hartnell (GB) heads to third PB Lawrence Stakes

Godolphin’s Hartnell (GB) could be excused when he arrives at Caulfield on Saturday for a ‘been here done that’ thought with his start in the feature $200,000, Group 2 WFA PB Lawrence Stakes (1400m) his third after winning the 2017 renewal and placing second last year.

The opening All In market on Monday by has Hartnell at $5.50 on the second line behind the relative upstart, certainly against Hartnell’s experienced campaigning, of Mystic Journey at $1.65. It will be the second time in a week that there will be a dominant favourite in a Group 2 race after Alizee’s win in the Missile Stakes at Rosehill last week.

Adam Trinder’s Mystic Journey, a four-year-old mare by Needs Further, is progressing off a very fine three-year-old year that netted the All-Star Mile and resulted in ten wins from 13 starts and $3.2 million in earnings. Pinnacles such as the Group 1 WS Cox Plate (2040m) are ahead of her.

Hartnell at nine has also been there to The Valley and done that, a fifth in the 2015 version of weight-for-age championship and second in the 2016 race, both behind Winx, who wasn’t, and he has competed in just about the best of the best elsewhere.

Last autumn as a mere eight-year-old Hartnell started five times for a fifth, three thirds and a second. The second was 1 1/4L behind Mystic Journey in the All-Star Mile at Flemington where he carried 59kg under William Buick to the filly’s 54kg under the weight-for-age conditions.

He followed that with a third in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile, with 58.5kg to Brutal’s 49.5kg, and another third in the Group 1 WFA Queen Elizabeth Stakes to Winx and Kluger (JPN) after being second at the 400m. Hartnell would have seen enough of the champion mare by that time but he never stopped running.

The stable sent him for a well earned spell after the Queen Elizabeth Stakes and he was presented at the trials once again on July 19th. Over 900m on the Course Proper at Randwick Hartnell finished a casual sixth behind Meryl and stablemate stars Kiamichi, Alizee and Best Of Days (GB). No need to rush when the short course specialists are out in front.

Mystic Journey has trialled twice for two wins over 800m on the All Weather at Devonport. Her spring and autumn were flawless and Tasmania has a star.

In a Winx free zone she has a serious target with the Cox Plate in October, in the meantime she now has to step up against not just Hartnell on Saturday should they all accept, but Humidor, $9.00, Cliff’s Edge, Kenedna and Spirit Of Valor (USA), $11.00, and Fifty Stars (IRE) at $13.00.

The market difference between Mystic Journey and Hartnell is significant, one slip up and Hartnell will be right there knowing exactly what the PB Lawrence is all about.

Hartnell (GB) and Hugh Bowman winning the 2018 Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick, picture