By Brad Gray
Godolphin play a strong hand at Randwick on Monday led by their star six-year-old Hartnell, who will meet Winx for the fifth time in The Star Group Two Apollo Stakes (1400m).
“He’s come back in great shape, I couldn’t be happier with his attitude and his fitness level,” said O’Shea.
“We’re looking forward to a good, positive day. It’s likely that the track will be rain affected which will be good for him.
“His trial was what we wanted and he’s come along nicely since then. From here he goes to the Chipping Norton in two weeks and then the Ranvet and the Queen Elizabeth.”
Hartnell's only trial ahead of his resumption - 27 Jan
James Doyle will ride Hartnell for the second time, having been legged aboard the two-time Group One winner at his Australian debut in the 2015 Chipping Norton Stakes when second to stablemate Contributer.
Hartnell and Winx both met first-up in very similar circumstances over 1400m in the spring with Winx holding a 3.5L margin. Winx currently holds a 4-0 record.
Winx and Hartnell met first-up in the Warwick Stakes over the spring
Magic Hurricane and Ambience join Hartnell in the royal blue silks in the Apollo Stakes, to be ridden by Cristian Reith and Kathy O’Hara.
“They’re both on track for the BMW. Both horses have trialled well and it will be good to get them started on a soft track.”
“Ambience had a good break after running well right through the autumn and then in Brisbane.
Impending also launches his autumn campaign at Randwick, against the older horses in the Group Three Southern Cross Stakes (1200m).
“What he has going for him is that he’s well treated under the conditions here with 53.5kg.”
“He’ll go on to the Canterbury Stakes and we’ll be keeping him to 1400m at this stage.”
Gridelin has returned in terrific form this campaign, stringing together two dominant victories, the latest at Canterbury by near five lengths and has earned a crack at the Group Two Light Fingers Stakes (1200m).
“This is a step up, but she’s in form and she showed last start that she can handle the soft.”
In the Group Three Triscay Stakes (1200m), Helmet’s full sister Pearls will represent O’Shea and she was impressive first-up last campaign when rolling Dixie Blossoms.
“She performs well fresh and she loves Randwick.”
“She showed us last prep that the 1600m was probably beyond her so we’ll be keeping her to shorter races.”
Pearls' first-up win last campaign