Star Witness will not be seen in Australia again after trainer Danny O’Brien confirmed that the colt would be retired to stud after his English campaign.
Star Witness won two Group One’s in Australia, the Coolmore Stud Stakes and the Blue Diamond Stakes, but O’Brien appreciates how important the English campaign will be in establishing the stud career of Star Witness.
“With a colt there is much more than prize money involved – it can make his stud career if he wins a Group One.”
“He’s going to be covering mares at Widden Stud in September and next week is going to be his grand finale. It would be good to finish his career with a big win.” O’Brien said.
O’Brien has not taken a horse overseas for the last few years but he said that the English sprint races were always on the agenda for Star Witness.
“We had this trip in mind for him after his second race as a two year old when he accelerated beautifully down the straight at Flemington. We have deliberately not over raced him with this in mind.” O’Brien said.
While horses such as Choisir and Starspangledbanner have had good Australian form before heading to England, O’Brien is not fazed by Star Witness’s less than impressive run in the Group One Newmarket down the straight at Flemington.
“There is no doubt that he was put off by the car show across the road before the Newmarket. He just wasn’t there to run well,” said O’Brien.
“He’ll run right up to his cup week form and six months on I think we can expect him to have improved a length or two.”
“He beat some very good horses in the Patinack (when second to Black Caviar). Plus, unlike Choisir and Starspangledbanner he was able to win a Group One at two so we are confident.”
O’Brien also said that he believes on pace runners have had an advantage in previous editions of the King’s Stand and that he would instruct jockey Steven Arnold to ride accordingly.
“We’ll be happy to stalk close enough to the pace in the King’s Stand because you don’t seem to be able to make up a lot of ground in the race,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien confirmed that if the son of Starcraft ran well in the King’s Stand that he would push on to the Golden Jubilee Stakes and possibly even the July Cup.
O’Brien will be hoping to break his international Group One duck with Star Witness in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
O’Brien has taken horses such as Glamour Puss, Duoro Valley, Barbaricus and Valedictum overseas, but he believes that Star Witness gives him his best chance at winning a big international race.
“He’s travelled really well. He’s settled in at Newmarket now and really enjoying the place,” O’Brien said.
“The facilities at Newmarket are outstanding. Obviously they’ve evolved over the last three or four hundred years but this place is heaven for horses.”
The King’s Stand Stakes will take place just after midnight on Wednesday morning Australian time.
English bookmakers declared Star Witness as favourite for the race at $5.00.