Ortensia to lead home fillies in King’s Stand
Tuesday 19 June 2012
By Geoffrey Riddle
Paul Messara’s spirits have not been dampened by the recent rain at Ascot and the Australian trainer is still confident he can win the King’s Stand Stakes with Ortensia on the first day of the Royal Meeting today.
The Australian mare won the Group One Al Quoz sprint at Meydan in March from five of today’s 22 rivals.
It was only the seven-year-old’s third run for the 34-year trainer since narrowly missing out on being put out to pasture by her owners and Messara is convinced he has his charge trained to the minute for five furlong outing.
“The race at Meydan was the best run of her career. She is going into this as well as she was into Dubai,” Messara told RacingUK.com. “Sole Power had the run of the race and peeled off 300 metres out. He had every conceivable chance. If we happened to be placed where he was we would have won by two and a half lengths. It was just how the race was run.”
Ortensia was scheduled to visit Starspangledbaner at stud last year when Messara was approached to give the mare one last chance on the track after a career with trainer Tony Noonan, who is based in busy Victoria.
Messara’s state-of-the-art Arrowfield Stud is set in the rural heartland of New South Wales and like at Newmarket the mare thrived in the more relaxed surroundings.
“The Arrowfield set up is like Newmarket - out in the countryside, and she relished that environment and after a while she was a pony to ride,” Messara added. “There was a big mental change as she had always been in a metropolitan environment.
“When I took her to Melbourne for her first race I noticed in that city environment she got quite sour pretty quickly.”
Ortensia has been declared with blinkers as she has a propensity to look around. She will be ridden by Craig Wiliams, the Australian jockey who had a spell with Mick Channon 12 years ago.
“She's a bit of a mood horse,” Messara said. “She was very different in Dubai. She was more switched on in her previous runs but in Dubai she was far more relaxed in her approach and track work - it was like you had your foot on the hand break and you'd let her go whereas in Dubai you had to actually press the accelerator.”
Ortensia’s acceleration was for all to see in Dubai, where she ran the fastest final furlong by 0.34 seconds but her hold-up style will put Williams in a difficult position with 23-runners declared.
Flying through the pack is also likely to be Whizz Kid, Robert Collett’s French raider who bids to follow up Chineur’s victory in 2005 when the Royal Meeting was staged at York. Whizz Kid confirmed her ability to handle Ascot when second to Deacon Blues in the British Champion Sprint Stakes in October.
She confirmed she had trained on as a four-year-old when she built on her fifth place finish in a Group Three on her seasonal bow by winning the Prix du Gros-Chene at Chantilly this month.
With Margot Did, last season’s Nunthorpe Stakes winner, Night Carnation and the three-year-olds Caledonia Lady and Ponty Acclaim also in the line-up, the fillies and mares are well represented.
Miss Andretti, Dominica and Cassandra Go have all struck for the fillies in the past 11 years and it would take a brave punter to bet against another one taking the first sprint of the week.
(Watch our video interview with trainer Paul Messara below at Abington Place stables courtesy of Australian network TVN)