John O’Shea trained runners have been going better than ever over the past couple of months and there’s no better example of that than Hartnell’s incredibly impressive Chelmsford Stakes win on Saturday. He ran to a top class WFA Performance Rating of 108, winning by 7.8 lengths while eased down over the final stages. He sits clearly at the top of this week's WPR rankings:
It’s easy to be somewhat dismissive of Hartnell's win because those behind him were stayers early in their preparation, but the style of his win and the merit in his speed related measures makes his 108 rating rock solid and a genuine G1 WFA Performance.
It may have been a spike and we could see him come back off that mark slightly, but he did run to 106.5 when he won the BMW, so he could well and truly establish himself around that level again this preparation. A performance of 106.5 to 108 with his current weight of 55kg's in the Caulfield Cup would make him very hard to beat.
In the past the O’Shea stable have suggested Hauraki needs a dry track to show his best, but that looks out the window now as he returned first up here with an impressive win on Slow to Heavy ground and an equal career peak rating… further evidence of just how good the stable has their horses going at the moment. The moderate pace up front was far from suitable, but he ran home in top class sustained sectionals to provide plenty of substance around his rating.
Reports are he’s being aimed at The Epsom, but with a handicappers rating of 109 he’ll be right up in the weights and certainly need a new career peak to win that race. After this first up performance though that’s not out of the question.
A very solid 2nd to Hauraki in The Tramway, but looks hard to place now as he’s paying the price in official rating & weight for a Group 1 win in the Randwick Guineas, which was comfortably below genuine G1 standard. He’ll be weighted up in most handicaps and doesn’t look quite good enough to compete at WFA. It will be interesting to see where the stable head with him.
She may have narrowly gone down to Merriest (her first defeat in six starts) but strong race figures and her impost of 58.5kg (giving the winner 3.5kg in weight) left her with a high quality rating that stamps her as a very promising filly this Spring. She worked early to cross from a wide draw and then when challenged by Merriest she refused to give up and fought all the way to the line. There’s a stack to like about her going forward.
A solid rating win in the Dato, just a shade better than his Australian Cup performance when he was first across the line, but lost on protest. Similar to the PB Lawrence though, the figures from this race were a little underwhelming, around 1 length below genuine G2 class. That said, most of the runners in this race are very early in their preparation and still building fitness, so races run at a good early pace like this was can tend to take their toll and limit the fields ability to record strong overall figures.