A forced change of rider for Ortensia would be very disruptive for the chances of the Group 1 winning mare in the Sprint Cup at Haydock this weekend if top English jockey William Buick became unavailable due to his commitment to the John Gosden stable.
Buick has developed a great association with Ortensia while she has been campaigning in England, resulting in wins in the Group 2 £100,000 Gordon’s King George Stakes (5 furlongs) at Goodwood on August 3 followed by a breathtaking win in the Group 1 £250,000 The Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes (5 furlongs) at York on August 24.
The top English jockey is committed to ride Nathaniel for Gosden on Saturday in the Group 1 €750,000 The Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes (1 mile 2 furlongs) at Leopardstown in Ireland and unless he can organise a helicopter flight between venues, Buick won’t be able to partner Ortensia.
Leah Gavranich has been supervising the preparation of Ortensia while in England, said that Buick is a very important part of the mare’s campaign and it would be a huge loss if Buick was unable to juggle his rides on Saturday.
“William is very important. I’d probably go as far to say that he has a better partnership with the mare than anyone else that has ridden her,” Gavranich said.
“He just seems to understand the horse a lot better and early on in her races he doesn’t push her around and gives her the time to find her feet. I think that really tells at the end of her races and he gets quite a tune out of her.”
“Hopefully he’s free to ride them both, but obviously he has to ride Nathaniel for John Gosden, so we’ll be looking around for a back-up plan I’m sure. There’s a few things in the pipeline, but I’ll definitely be devastated if William can’t take the ride.”
The Group 1 £225,000 The Betfred Sprint Cup (6 furlongs) at Haydock Park is run at 3.25pm, not giving Buick much time to travel across the Irish Sea to Leopardstown for the Champion Stakes which is due to start at 5.45pm.
Gavranich has made tentative plans for a replacement jockey but won’t release any details until it is certain that Buick is unavailable.
“There are a few other names being thrown around, but I’ll have to leave that under wraps for now,” she said.
Gavranich is happy with the way Ortensia is shaping for another chance to win at Group 1 level but said she took a couple of days to recover from the hard run in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York.
“She definitely felt the run, there’s no doubt about that. She just took a day or so to physically look a lot better, but she never left an oat one day, she’s such a great doer and has a great constitution,” Gavranich said.
“I’m very happy with where she’s at the moment. She’s very fresh and well and really loving life. Hopefully she can show she’s as good over six as she is over five.”
Trainer Paul Messara has done an outstanding job with Ortensia, winning three Group 1s with the Testa Rosa mare since taking over her training at the end of last year.
As well as the win at York at Group 1 level, Messara was successful with Ortensia in the Group 1 $500,000 Burswood Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot, Perth on November 19 last year before heading off the Dubai to take out the Group 1 US$1m Al Quoz Sprint (1000m) at Meydan on March 31.
It’s been a great training effort by Messara to win three Group 1s in three different continents with a mare that was almost sent to stud last season.