Ortensia to face spirited crowd
- BY:TONY ARROLD
- From:The Australian
- August 20, 2012 12:00AM
ORTENSIA, Australia’s globe-trotting wonder mare, is likely to face a maximum field after 30 sprinters were left in contention for the Group I Nunthorpe Stakes, over the straight 1000m course at York, England, on Friday.
But the entry of the Australian-bred Starspangledbanner was allowed to lapse at this second declaration stage, with the future of the dual-hemisphere Group I winner unresolved after he finished last in a Group III in Ireland on his recent return from a failed stud career.
When the field is finalised on Wednesday, the top half-dozen in the Nunthorpe Stakes betting market are expected to remain.
Ortensia, 5-1 second favourite, will be opposed by Bated Breath (4-1), Sole Power (6-1) — the winner in 2010 when defeating Starspangledbanner — the recent Group I July Cup winner Mayson (7-1) and the query horse, Pearl Secret (7-1).
Racing in the same ownership as Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden, Pearl Secret has won all his four starts, all over 1000m, including two over the Nunthorpe course. But the three-year-old colt is stepping up a few grades in class for this.
Success in the Nunthorpe for Ortensia will give the Testa Rossa mare the distinction of being a Group I winner in three countries, having posted wins at that level in Australia and Dubai.
She ran below expectations in a Group I at Royal Ascot in June then struck a heavy track behind Mayson in the July Cup. But she found conditions ideal when taking the Group II King George Stakes (1000m) at Goodwood recently.
Under the set-weight conditions of the Nunthorpe Stakes, Ortensia will carry 61kg against the 62kg for the older males, Bated Breath, Mayson and
Among other drop-outs from the feature sprint were last year’s winner Margot Did, a mare by Australian-bred shuttle horse, Exceed And Excel.
The continuing Deauville racing season last weekend allowed Exceed And Excel’s best son, Excelebration, to confirm himself as Europe’s second-best miler when he beat a top field in the Group I Jacques Le Marois (1600m).
Europe’s best miler — indeed, the world’s top-rated horse — Frankel, will be seen out next at the York meeting on Wednesday but will be lacking opposition in the Group I Juddmonte International Stakes (2100m), which will be the Galileo horse’s first test beyond 1600m.
Nine were left in at the second declaration stage for a race sponsored by Frankel’s breeder-owner Prince Khalid Abdullah, of the Juddmonte Studs.