Australian trainer Paul Messara’s confidence of winning another Group 1 on English soil with his top sprinting mare Ortensia was boosted with the confirmation that local top jockey William Buick would ride and the Haydock track was likely to be good for Saturday.
Messara sees Buick’s engagement as a bonus after the successful English rider partnered Ortensia at her last three starts including wins at Goodwood and York, but the young trainer is still a bit sceptical about the English weather forecast.
“It is great news for us,” Messara said.
“He has partnered the horse now a couple of times for a couple of victories so we are really pleased to have him on board.”
“The forecast is good, but as we’ve learnt over here that is pretty unreliable.”
Buick was in some doubt of riding Ortensia in the Group 1 £225,000 The Betfred Sprint Cup (6 furlongs) at Haydock Park on Saturday because of a commitment to ride the John Gosden trained Nathaniel in the Group 1 €750,000 The Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes (1 mile 2 furlongs) at Leopardstown in Ireland.
But Buick and his team managed to organise a helicopter to fly the top rider from Haydock after the Sprint Cup which is due to start at 3.25pm to arrive in time at Leopardstown for the 4.45pm start time of the Irish Champion Stakes.
“All week I’ve been asked questions about it and up until now I genuinely didn’t know,” Buick said.
“But it’s looking very possible.”
“Obviously my loyalties are to John Gosden, so it wasn’t a case of where I was going to go; I was always going to go to Ireland. It was whether I could squeeze Ortensia in. I’m just very fortunate to be able to ride two horses of that calibre on the same day. I can’t quite believe it.”
The news of Buick confirming his availability boosted Messara’s confidence for Saturday after the he had formed a great association with the mare.
“She isn’t the easiest horse to ride and having ridden her before is a big advantage for William and also us. Putting on a fresh jockey on the day there is always that element of unknown and she can be a bit temperamental but William gets along with her really well,” Messara said..
“I spoke to his manager today and he is even going to take a ride in the race before at Leopardstown.”
“They are fairly confident of getting there. Haydock is right on the coast so it would be the quickest flight from England which has obviously helped our cause.”
“It is quite common over here for jockeys to race at a couple of different venues in a day. They often fly between them via light aircraft or helicopters.”
Messara reported that Ortensia took a few days to recover from her hard fought win at York in the Group 1 £250,000 The Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes (5 furlongs) on August 24 but she is back to where the trainer wants her.
“She is in great order. She had her last piece of work this morning. She didn’t do a super hard piece but we are very happy with the way she worked and she has come through that well.”
“Basically if everything stays the same come Saturday we should be a big chance.”
The Australian mare is currently heading the Sprint Cup betting at 5-2 ahead of the Roger Charlton trained Bated Breath at 7-2 with Strong Suit at 7-1 and the July Cup winner Mayson at 9-1.