Danny O’Brien’s Star Witness has finished a gallant second in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot overnight.
After being fractious in the gates before the race, Star Witness missed the kick by a couple of lengths, and despite finishing off the race strongly, he could only manage second behind UK galloper Prohibit.
O’Brien said that despite the fact his barrier manners may have cost him a shot at victory, he would more than likely start Star Witness in the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot on Saturday.
“The history of this race says you can’t give them six to eight lengths head start and he probably did have to come from that far off them. We’ll regroup and hopefully be back on Saturday,” O’Brien said.
“We came here with the intention of running twice provided he showed his best form. Obviously he’s run right up to his best form without winning, so provided he does well in the next couple of days there’s a good chance you’ll see him back here on Saturday.
“He looked like he’s looking for the six (furlongs), it all happened a bit quick for him out there today. But he’s having a good look around now and taking it all in so hopefully that leaves him in good stead for his next start.”
While Saturday’s Golden Jubilee Stakes is a serious option for Star Witness, O’Brien said he would see how the horse recovers before making any concrete plans.
“He’s got the cobwebs out of his system today so it may be Saturday of the July Cup in three weeks time.” O’Brien said.
Star Witness has only raced off a seven day back up once in his career and that was when he was second to Black Caviar in the Patinack Farm Classic during the Melbourne spring carnival. The five horses he beat home that day were all Group One winners.
Jockey Steven Arnold said that Star Witness was never really in a position to win the race after missing the start by the best part of three lengths.
“He was pretty stirred up behind the barriers and began a little awkwardly. He came out of the gates a little bit sideways so I had to give him a stride or two to balance up,” Arnold said.
“But he’s run super. They went really quick in the race and I would have liked one of the others to drag me into the it, but I had to come out and make my own running from the two furlong mark.”
Arnold said that he thought Star Witness could be competitive in the Golden Jubilee, provided he pulled up okay from King’s Stand.
Star Witness is chasing an international Group One before he is retired to stud, at the conclusion of his English racing campaign.
Local hope Prohibit defeated Star Witness by half a length while Hong Kong sprinter Sweet Santelle was third.
Prohibit was the first Royal Ascot winner for trainer Jim Crowley, who said that everything went to plan in the race.
“It worked out to perfection, everything clicked into place. He’s a hold up horse and they ran along which is what he needed,” Crowley said.
If O’Brien decides to run Star Witness in the Golden Jubilee on Saturday, he would be clashing with the Peter Moody trained Hinchinbrook, who has also been taken to England seeking international Group One glory.
Star Witness is currently second favourite for the Golden Jubilee at $5.50, while Hinchinbrook is rated a $13.00 chance.