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Hartnell ready to challenge Winx

Winx, ridden by Hugh Bowman, goes through her paces in trackwork ahead of the Cox Plate.
Winx, ridden by Hugh Bowman, goes through her paces in trackwork ahead of the Cox Plate. TRACEY NEARMY

RACING: It is the discussion that has dominated the 2016 Spring Racing Carnival and the issue will finally be sorted in the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley tomorrow.

At the start of the spring it looked as though it would be a procession through the Group 1 races for Winx, and there was nobody thinking otherwise when she beat Hartnell by three-and-a-half lengths first-up in the Warwick Stakes in August.

But while Winx, ridden by Hugh Bowman, is worthy of her place as favourite, Hartnell trainer John O'Shea thinks his horse is ready to challenge.

Hartnell, which won the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) during the 2015 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival, has gone to another level this preparation.

He didn't beat a great deal to take out both the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) and Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m), but there was no doubting the quality of his victory in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington earlier this month when finishing well clear of Caulfield Cup (2400m) winner Jameka.

The battle between Winx and Hartnell has dominated the lead-up, but there are a number of other very talented horses in the race.

Vadamos is the sole international galloper in the race and he has a genuine chance to spoil the party.

The French galloper will make his own luck right on the speed and based on his last-start Group 1 victory in the Prix Du Moulin De Longchamp he looks like the perfect type of horse for Moonee Valley.

Hauraki was beaten by Winx in the George Main Stakes but he has since produced a career-best performance to win the Epsom Handicap and could go to a new level over 2000m in the Cox Plate.

When you throw in the likes of Yankee Rose, Lucia Valentina and Black Heart Bart this truly is the race of the Spring Racing Carnival.

Don't miss out on the excitement - the Cox Plate and Manikato Stakes betting markets are now available with Ladbrokes.

Topics:  cox plate hartnell ladbrokes winx