Australian sprinter Ortensia has recovered from injuries she sustained at Royal Ascot and trainer Paul Messara is ready to give the Group 1 winning mare a tough test up the Newmarket straight in preparation for the Group 1 £400,000 Darley July Cup (6 furlongs) on Saturday week.
Ortensia was sent out the 9-2 equal favourite with Wizz Kid in the Group 1 £350,000 The King’s Stand Stakes (5 furlongs) at Royal Ascot on June 19 on the strength of her two Group 1 wins prior to arriving in England.
The rejuvenated mare burst back into winning form for Messara when she took out the Group 1 $500,000 Burswood Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot in Perth on November 19 then travelled to Dubai to win the Group 1 US$1m Al Quoz Sprint (1000m) at Meydan on March 31.
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 after finishing a disappointing ninth to Hong Kong sprinter Little Bridge in the King’s Stand.
“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.”
Messara is no stranger to the testing straight course of the July Cup after finishing third with his former top line sprinter Alverta in 2010 behind another Australian star Starspanglebanner and is ready to put Ortensia to the test now that she has recovered from her back injury.
“It will be a pretty serious gallop and we’ll get a good idea on how she handles it,” Messara said.
“She’s handled the undulations in the gallops at Newmarket but it will be good for her to have experience on the July course.
“The track is so undulating and it’s something we’re not really used to.”
“She’s a faster horse than Alverta but it’s going to come down to whether she can handle the track or not.
“The final furlong at the July course is quite unbelievable. It’s seriously steep.”
British bookmakers have Ortensia at 16-1 for the July Cup with King’s Stand runner up Bated Breath the 3-1 favourite with unlikely runner Moonlight Cloud second pick at 4-1.
But the market will have to be adjusted with the trainer Freddy Head announcing that the French mare will be bypassing Newmarket and heading to the Group 1 €250,000 Prix Maurice de Gheest (1300m) at Deauville in August.
Moonlight Cloud almost became the first horse to lower the colours of unbeaten champ Black Caviar when she made a late challenge but failed by a head in the Group 1 £500,000 The Diamond Jubilee Stakes (6 furlongs) at Royal Ascot on June 23.
Head had originally planned to take Moonlight Cloud to Newmarket but has had a change of mind and will now head to Deauville to try to win back to back Prix Maurice de Gheest.
“Without doubt she won’t run in the July Cup. We’re keeping her for the Prix Maurice de Gheest,” Head said.