Racing Victoria’s international talent scout Leigh Jordon heads to Europe beginning his annual bid of luring the connections of talented raiders down under for the spring and possible Caulfield Cup hope Dartmouth is in his sights.
The European four-year-old Dubawi colt is prepared by Sir Michael Stoute and owned by The Queen, who has had previous success with her horses on Australian soil over the years.
Dartmouth has won his past three starts on the trot including on June 18 at Royal Ascot when taking out the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes (2414m) as a 10/1 shot.
Despite being held-up mid-race, he raced on gamely over the final furlong and was able to beat home the Aidan O’Brien-trained Highland Reel in the mile and a half feature.
O’Brien’s runner-up Highland Reel is no stranger to Australian racing fans, the four-year-old Galileo stallion travelling down under last Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival to run third behind Winx in the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley.
Jordon is hoping the Hardwicke Stakes win by Dartmouth has put the thought of a trip to Victoria this season in the minds of the horse’s connections.
“I think he’s the right sort of horse, and to have the Queen’s horse come to Australia in the year of her 90th birthday would be fantastic,” he told RV.
“He’s right at the top of my wish list for this year’s Spring Racing Carnival.”
The ideal target for Dartmouth would be the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 15 followed by a possible run in the $6 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington Racecourse on Tuesday November 1.
Timing could be the only issue however with Dartmouth likely to contest the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2414m) back at Ascot later this month and possibly the Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2400m) in France on the first Sunday of October.
He is hoping to sway connections for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and instead convince them of a Spring Cups bid following a similar lead-up preparation as stablemate Snow Sky last year.
“The main concern is that he will probably run in the King George Stakes next and then possibly the Arc in France,” Jordon said.
“That being said, the Hardwicke into the King George is the same form lines that Snow Sky came through last year en route to the Melbourne Cup so I’m hoping our carnival could still be on the radar for Her Majesty.
“The Hardwicke is a ballot-exempt race into the Caulfield Cup and that looks a perfect race for him.”
Stoute’s Nayef stallion Snow Sky enjoyed wins in the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup (2816m) and Hardwicke Stakes before a sixth to Postponed in the King George last season before heading to Australia.
He ran a brave fifth to the since-retired New Zealander Mongolian Khan in the Caulfield Cup on debut down under before a second last finish crossing 23rd behind $101 winner Prince Of Penzance in the ‘race that stops a nation’.
Jordon also confirmed he was targeting 2014 Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist for another bid in the world’s richest handicap.
The German stayer is back home under the care of his Melbourne Cup winning trainer Andreas Wohler and back in winning form having won two on the trot including the Group 2 Hansa-Preis (2400m) last Sunday.
“Protectionist looks to be back in brilliant form following his win in the Hansa-Preis in Hamburg, and for Andreas to get him back to Australia would be a remarkable training feat,” Jordon said.
“I’m headed to Germany to talk to him personally about the horse.”
Dartmouth is listed as a $51 chance currently through Ladbrokes.com.au in their pre-nomination Melbourne Cup markets.
Protectionist is shorter at $21 to become just the second dual Melbourne Cup winner in history to do so on non-consecutive years joining Peter Pan (1932, 1934).