James Cummings has hinted that he believes nine-year-old Hartnell has another Group 1 left in him, with the trainer expecting a peak run for the campaign in Saturday’s Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington.
The veteran goes into the $750,000 Group 1 third-up and Cummings said he is again poised to challenge Mystic Journey after twice being beaten by the Tasmanian mare this year.
“The gladiator is ready to throw down the gauntlet again at Flemington, which should suit him perfectly third-up from a spell,” Cummings said.
“In his past two preparations he’s found his best form at his third run back.
“He won the Epsom third-up last spring and he finished second in The All Star Mile at the same stage of his autumn campaign.
“And he’s training like his third run is going to be his best this time. He’s going beautifully.”
Hartnell has only once run in a Makybe Diva Stakes, when he ran second to Humidor in 2017 as the $1.70 favourite.
He won’t be anywhere near those odds on Saturday despite his strong last-start fourth (beaten 1.5 lengths) in the Memsie Stakes behind Scales Of Justice.
He has been marked him at $12 behind the $2.25 favourite Mystic Journey, Scales Of Justice ($4.80) and highly talented import Yucatan ($10).
Cummings is also confident he can snare Sydney’s feature three-year-old race on Saturday when Bivouac takes on the $200,000 G2 Run To The Rose.
Bivouac was beaten as odds-on favourite by Exceedance on a Heavy track in the San Domenico Stakes last start and while Cummings is again wary of Exceedance, he can see Bivouac bouncing back to his best.
“After a sizzling first-up victory in Melbourne he appeared to be clearly outpointed by a very smart colt at Rosehill,” he said.
“The return clash of these gun colts augers well for an exciting contest in an event oozing quality.
“Getting back on top of the ground could be the difference for our horse.”