He was the courageous and versatile horse on the track that captured the hearts of fans everywhere, and looks to do the same in his new career. Fortunately, Hartnell has not moved too far away from the Flemington action, as he is also still visited almost daily by his greatest fan of all, Reg Fleming.
Even after labouring from early morning until dusk in the spacious stables of James Cummings at Flemington, one of his long-time lieutenants still had an important job to do when the last of their horses has been fed.
Reg Fleming, dedicated foreman for Cups King Bart Cummings and now a valuable component in Bart’s grandson’s training establishment always finds time most days to visit some of their former champions.
Fleming joined the Cummings family in the late 1980s but has been an ardent supporter of horses' needs and welfare during and after their careers.
On most days Fleming travels to the Patterson family, friends of the former Queenslander who are looking after weight-for-age hero Hartnell who retired early last year.
Hartnell was a winner of four Group 1 races and was also second to Australia's greatest race mare Winx in four of their eight meetings.
“He was very special, he loved a cuddle, he loved a pat, he was so kind and yet at the races he was so brave and so honest. I call in and see him most days, give him a pat, have a talk to him but I try to catch up with so many of our horses to see that they’re going okay,” Fleming said.
Fleming has been a long-time advocate that horses should be cared for and respected in training and then looked after in their retirement.
“With Hartnell he gave his all. He was a winner at 1400m in Australia and two miles in England. He gave us everything (winner of $7.4 million in prize money) so we’ve got to return the kindness he showed us.