Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
Star Witness has scored barrier 18 in the Kings Stand Stakes ensuring he’ll have the best possible chance at Royal Ascot.
While the outside gate may not seem ideal, the Kings Stand is a 1000m trip down the straight meaning he’ll be advantaged by the firmer less used turf along the outside fence.
It has increased his popularity with punters and Star Witness is a clear favourite at the top of betting markets.
Such is the strength of Australian sprinting stocks at the moment that even on the back of a fair lead up at home he’s still looked on so favourably.
He has history on his side with our home grown talent excelling in the Kings Stand in recent years.
In fact the outside gates have been a feature of the Aussie luck with Miss Andretti winning in 2007 after jumping form 19 and Scenic Shot doing the same form 15 in 2009.
The 2011 Kings Stand field is incredibly strong with nine overseas runners in all and Danny O’Brien knows his horse will need to be at his best to keep the Australian success alive.
“We’ve got a bit to live up to but this horse is well capable of doing it and we’re hoping he can,” O’Brien said.
“He’s settled in very well and he took the trip really well.
“He’s enjoying Newmarket, it’s a great place if you’re a horse, and he’s certainly hasn’t had any issues since he’s arrived.”
The recent record at home for Star Witness certainly isn’t world beating but it could have been very different were it not for the superstars Black Caviar and Hay List.
In fact only one of his runs could be considered ‘bad’, seventh in the Newmarket Handicap, but even then O’Brien says he has legitimate excuses.
“It was a race where we had some issues on the day,” he said.
“They were filming Top Gear next door and we had basically a British Grand Prix happening next door to the racecourse and the horse completely lost composure with the car noise all day.
“It was a good experience for him. He ran his race before the race.
“It certainly wasn’t a true indication of his form. As long as you don’t have any cars racing at Royal Ascot, I’m sure we won’t have a repeat of that.”
Star Witness is the clear favourite at 4 to 1 in the 2011 Kings Stand ahead of the Irish horse Sole Power at 7 to 1 and local horse Kingsgate Native at 9 to 1.
All up though given the variation of lead up event and opposition it’s very tough to get a good read on the form leading into the race.
Even O’Brien is at a loss of where his main rivals come from and like the rest of us he’ll need to wait until the race jumps to see what unfolds.
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