Hartnell is expected to bypass a clash with champion Winx at Flemington in the Turnbull Stakes with connections opting for the Underwood Stakes at Caulfield for the gelding’s next start.
Godolphin’s head trainer in Australia James Cummings confirmed Hartnell, who finished second to Humidor in last Saturday’s Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington, was headed to the Group One Underwood (1800m) on Sunday week.
Winx’s trainer Chris Waller announced on Wednesday that the plan was for the champion mare to head to Melbourne and have her next start in the Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 7.
The Turnbull is three weeks before Winx’s planned attempt at a third-straight Cox Plate win.
Hartnell won the Turnbull last year in emphatic fashion over Jameka but the Godolphin team opted to send him to the Underwood Stakes, even before the decision on Winx was announced.
“We booked Kerrin McEvoy to ride the horse in the Underwood on Monday,” Cummings told Sydney’s Sky Sports Radio.
Hartnell won the PB Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield first-up this preparation.
“I think it’s just a matter of plotting the path we feel suits the horse,” Cummings said of the decision to go to the Underwood.
“I think that he’ll run very well in the Underwood. It was a bit of a coin toss as a lead-up to where we want to go next.
“I think the horse has pulled up strongly enough from a tough run in the Makybe Diva Stakes and I think he’ll run very well for Kerrin in the Underwood.”
Next month’s Caulfield Cup 2017 is among the options for Hartnell.