Australian trainer Paul Messara has snapped up in from local jockey William Buick to ride Ortensia in the Group 1 £400,000 Darley July Cup (1200m) at Newmarket on Saturday.
Top Aussie jockey Craig Williams is Ortensia’s regaular rider but is currently riding in Japan on a three month contract and is unable to travel to England at the weekend.
Messara is very content to have booked Buick who is riding on a crest of a wave after winning another Group One for the season on Nathaniel in the £400,000 Coral – Eclipse (1 mile 2 furlongs 7 yards) at Sandown on Saturday.
“It’s good to have a rider with local knowledge,” Messara said.
Buick is running second in the English flat races jockey’s premiership behind Ryan Moore who just pipped Buick for the riding honours over the Royal Ascot Carnival.
Buick and Moore both rode five winners but Moore claimed the top jockey position for the week after a countback of placed horses.
“Going into the last day, I was 4-11 to keep it and I thought that was very short because Ryan had better rides than me,” Buick said.
“But you can’t be disappointed with a week like that.”
Messara is satisfied that Ortensia has overcome injuries she sustained when a disappointing ninth to Little Bridge in the Group 1 £350,000 The King’s Stand Stakes (5 furlongs) at Royal Ascot on June 19 and his confidence was boosted with a stunning gallop at Newmarket last Thursday.
Ortensia was allowed to gallop on the Newmarket July Cup course and impressed the stable staff who passed on glowing reports to Messara who arrived back in England on Friday.
“We got some good, positive feedback from her jockey, Michael Hills, about how she galloped, too,” Messara said.
“It is the second time she has been on the July Cup course,” Messara added.
“She had an easy workout on the course there the previous week but we wanted her to have a good gallop over it before the race.”
“It is quite a unique course but she seemed to handle it very well.”
Messara had a trouble free run with Ortensia and the mare was cherry ripe leading into her Royal Ascot assignment but pulled up with a back strain .
“To be honest, I went into the race with a lot of confidence,” Messara said.
“She’s never worked better or been better. I thought she was in a great head space leading into the race. Her work had kept going up a level from Dubai.”
“On the day she really overheated prior to the race and I think to some degree ran her race before she got out onto the track.”
“She received a squeeze at the 500 and then had to bump her way clear and pulled up with a sore back.”
“There were a few excuses for what happened at Royal Ascot,” Messara said.
“I think you will see a different horse in the July Cup – she is going as well as ever.”
Ortensia will come up against former Australian trained Sepoy in the July Cup where the Golden Slipper winner will be having his first start for Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni and his last race start before coming back to Australian to stand at Darley Stud in the Hunter Valley.
Sepoy was unplaced at his last start for trainer Peter Snowden when tenth to Krypton Factor in the Group 1 $US2 million Golden Shaheen (1200m) aat Meydan in Dubai on March 31 before being transferred to the Dodolphin stable.