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Scone-based trainer Paul Messara has confirmed that top class mare Ortensia will definitely be lining up in the King’s Stand Stakes 2012 at Royal Ascot despite the track being downgraded to soft overnight.
Testa Rossa six-year-old Ortensia, dual winner of the Winterbottom Stakes at Australia’s Ascot Racecourse in Perth, will take her first look at the more famed of the Ascot courses at 12:05am tomorrow morning our time in the Grade 1 King’s Stand Stakes (1000m).
After drawing barrier five in the big 23-horse field for the classic sprint she is also the current $4.40 top elect in the King’s Stand Stakes odds at bookies around the country.
Punters and the bookies are also tipping the mare based on her outstanding international victory last time out when Ortensia beat home fellow King’s Stand Stakes hopeful Sole Power by one and a quarter lengths in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint (1000m) at Dubai on March 31.
Her winning Al Quoz jockey Craig Williams retains the ride tomorrow morning, the ace Aussie hoop travelling over from Japan for the mount.
One thing of concern for Messara however is the possible soft ground at Royal Ascot.
On Monday the ground at Ascot eased from good to soft, but no more rain is forecast until Thursday.
“We had a drying weekend until Sunday night when overnight and Monday morning we had six millimetres of rain,” clerk of the course Chris Stickels said.
“It’s made us good to soft now. I think it will just be on the easy side tomorrow.
“It is going to dry a little bit between now and then. Drier conditions (are forecast) for Tuesday and Wednesday before some rain again on Thursday.
“The course has taken the rain exceptionally well. It does dry and drain quite quickly but we won’t need to add any water. I think it’s going to be completely natural this year.
“Thursday is quite tricky. There is a low threatening to push in from the Atlantic towards the end of the week. It is looking more threatening, but the timing and amount of rain it is likely to deliver is tricky.
“The estimate at the moment is between four and seven millimetres during the day on Thursday.”
Ortensia’s last three starts, all three of which she has won, have been on Good to Dead ground.
The last time she saw a rain affected track was for her seventh to Atomic Force in last year’s The Galaxy on a Heavy (10) at Randwick.
Looking further back over Ortensia’s career record, which has produced 11 wins from 30 starts for over $2.1 million in prize money to date, she does have Group winning form on Slow ground.
Back in the winter of 2009 when prepared by Tony Noonan Ortensia enjoyed a number of good runs on Slow-rated tracks including her tight win in the Group 2 QTC Cup (1300m) at Eagle Farm on a Slow (60) and her third to Black Piranha in the $1 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) on a Heavy (8), Williams aboard for both.
Still that was three years ago and Messara knows she is better on top of the ground these days.
Despite this Messara has taken confidence in the fact that unlike in Australia, England runs it’s more important race early during the meets which means even if there’s a soft track it won’t be too chopped up for Ortensia.
“She is going as well as she was in Dubai,” Messara said.
“I’m really happy with her condition.
“The marketplace has determined what are the ones to beat and I think they’ve got it right.
“If it is wet Wizz Kid, the French horse will come into it.
“Ideally I’d like an Australian equivalent of dead to good.
“She’s got mixed form on slow so it’s hard to know.”
Following Ortensia in the King’s Stand Stakes odds is local hope Bated Breath, whose trainer Roger Charlton could still scratch him from the event due to the soft ground, and Wizz Kid on $6.50 each.
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