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With the failures of both Helmet and Sepoy in their international debuts on Dubai World Cup Night over the weekend, the Aussie contingent did come good in one event with classy mare Ortensia earning a 2012 Royal Ascot bid with her smart Al Quoz Sprint win.
Paul Messara’s dual Winterbottom Stakes winner combined with ace Aussie hoop Craig Williams in a brilliant near last to first victory in the US$1 million Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint (1000m) at Meydan.
It was the six-year-olds’ first overseas foray, the Al Quoz Sprint win boosting Ortensia’s value as a broodmare, and her winning time of 57.98 seconds was a devastatingly close three-tenths of a second outside the track record.
On the line Ortensia had a full one and a quarter lengths to spare of runner-up Sole Power while Joy And Fun was a further quarter length away for third.
“She’s a great mare and she came to me in great order and she’s gone on with it,” Messara, who took over the preparation of Ortensia from former trainer Tony Noonan late last year, said.
“She had a huge amount to do midrace.
“I was sweating bullets, I thought she’d be a lot closer but Craig (Williams) got her to the right spot and she flew.
“I did have my heart in my mouth, I can’t believe she has won it.
‘”I jumped so high when she hit the line I lost my phone! It’s fantastic. This is a huge stage.”
Aussie owned and bred, the daughter of Testa Rossa will get another chance to fly her home country’s flag in England during the prestigious Royal Ascot Carnival where the world’s highest rated mare, fellow green and golder Black Caviar is also set to make an appearance.
“She goes to England in seven days and she is going to run in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot,” Messara confirmed.
“She’s absolutely going to Ascot now.
“You don’t get many chances to run in a race like this so it’s a massive thrill, and it showcases what we Australians can do.
“We had a trial run with Alverta at Ascot a couple of years ago and I know this mare (Ortensia) is good enough.
“She’s a seasoned traveller now. The trip to England won’t worry her and she’s just going so well.”
Earlier in the night Helmet finished a disappointing 12th, beaten nearly 25 lengths by the Aiden O’Brien-trained Daddy Long Legs in US$2 million UAE Derby (1900m).
“He didn’t switch off quite as well as I would have liked but you’d have to say he had his chance,” jockey Kerrin McEvoy said of Helmet.
Then after the Al Quoz it was more bad news for the Aussies with champion colt Sepoy finishing in the same distant position of 10th as their stablemate Helmet this time behind Krypton Factor who upset the second-placed favourite Rocket Man in the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen (1200m).
“Sepoy wasn’t that happy on this surface,” McEvoy said of the artificial track.
“He was chasing a long way out and it’s unusual for him to be off the bridle so far out in a race.
“He was opposed to some seasoned horses who were used to this track and it all proved too much for him.”
The world’s richest thoroughbred race also took place at the meeting with the US$10 million Group 1 Dubai World Cup (2000m) with Godolphin taking out the quinella with Monterossa and Capponi running one-two.
Aussie expat and dual Cox Plate hero So You Think could only manage to finish four lengths away fourth.
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