Class Melbourne mare Ortensia will lead the Australian contingent in New Zealand’s 2012 Railway Stakes on New Year’s Day, the last-start Winterbottom Stakes winner one of three Aussies nominated for the feature sprint.
Pulled out of retirement, a rejuvenated Ortensia gave new trainer Paul Messara back-to-back wins last month, her first up effort in a Flemington black-type on Crown Oaks Day upstaged last start when the six-year-old stormed home to snare her second win, but first as a Group 1, in the Winterbottom Stakes at Ascot.
Messara will now send the $1.5 million earner across the Tasman to chance more Group 1 glory, this time in the NZ$200,000 Railway Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie Racecourse on January 1, 2012, Ortensia looking to go back-to-back for the mares following Miss Raggedy Ann’s Railway Stakes win on New Year’s Day this year and become the sixth mare in the past decade to take out the race.
Ridden by Darren Beadman and Craig Williams respectively this season, Ortensia is set to be ridden by her third hoop in as many starts in the Railway with Christian Reith booked for the mount in New Zealand.
Reith, who will be shooting for his maiden elite level title, has never ridden Ortensia under race conditions but did partner her for two Sydney barrier trials leading up to her successful spring return.
“Obviously this is a great opportunity to try to notch my first Group One up,” Reith said.
“I’m just rapt to get the opportunity and I think she’ll be a force to hold out.
“The horse was flying when she was coming back and I’m really looking forward to getting the chance on her on race day.
“I’ve only ridden her in those two trials but she felt absolutely awesome.”
She will face a quality field that could include two other Australian-trained hopefuls with Group 1 The Galaxy winner Atomic Force and the Chris Waller-trained Tromso also among the 37 early Railway Stakes entries.
Having missed out on an invitation to this Sunday’s Hong Kong International Race Day at Sha Tin, Darren Smith’s Newcastle galloper Atomic Force went to Canterbury last-start and won an 1100 metre welter in a hard-fought effort on a Heavy (9) track carrying a hefty 59kg.
Meanwhile, Lonhro five-year-old Tromso will be looking to bounce back after their disappointing effort finishing 13th to Monton in the Listed Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill last Saturday, the gelding hampered by a wide barrier 15 of 16 draw.