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While the connections of a number of the top chances in this weekend’s prestigious July Cup 2012 at England’s Newmarket Racecourse are sweating on the rain to clear, Aussie horseman Paul Messara is committed to running Ortensia in the sprint regardless of the weather.
The six-year-old daughter of Testa Rossa became an international star back on Dubai World Cup night in March when backing up from her second Winterbottom Stakes victory back in Perth to score a tidy win in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint (1000m).
She then travelled to the UK for the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes (1005m) at Royal Ascot but failed to come within seven lengths of Hong Kong champ Little Bridge when finishing a disappointing ninth.
Sweating up pre-race Ortensia definitely wasn’t at her best for the King’s Stand, Messarra hoping to atone on Sunday morning (AEST) when she takes on another crack field this time in the £400,000 Group 1 Darley July Cup (1207m).
“She has made a full recovery,” Messara confirmed.
“She strained some muscles but she is now moving very freely.
“We are trying everything to keep her as settled as possible before the race.
“Her work’s been very good.”
The latest Newmarket track report was a Good to Soft course, which on the Australian track rating system would sit at about a Slow (6 – 7), and the forecast is for the rain to keep falling right up until Saturday.
“It’s mid-range slow by Australian standards,” Messara said.
“If the weather forecast is right, with two days racing prior to our race it could end up more like a Heavy.”
While Ortensia’s best for on late has been on firmer ground her record shows at one time she was very capable on a rain-affected track having won the Group 2 QTC Cup (1300m) in Brisbane back in 2009 on a Slow (6) and run a close third to Black Piranha in that year’s Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) which was run on a Heavy (8).
“She gets through it but she doesn’t thrive,” Messara said.
In the latest July Cup odds at the Aussie bookmakers Ortensia is rated a $9 chance, equal with Strong Suit who put four and a half lengths on their rivals to win the Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1408m) at the track last October.
Markets are topped by King’s Stand Stakes runner-up Bated Breath ($4.50) who could be scratched if the track is too soft.
“Quite a few of the fancied runners don’t like it so the field could drop away a bit,” Messara said hopefully.
“Bated Breath doesn’t want it wet at all.”
For her two most recent runs Ortensia was ridden by ace Australian hoop Craig Williams who will be replaced by flying British jockey William Buick on Saturday.
Along with the track conditions the other concern for Messara heading into the King’s Stand with Ortensia is the notoriously undulating track at Newmarket which he hopes she will handle by getting into a steady rhythm.
“I think the most important thing is balance and getting into a rhythm early,” Messara said.
“I think we would be willing to sacrifice a position to get her balanced because that is the most important thing.
“Where we draw and how many starters there are will play a major role.
“The first 600 (metres) will be about balance and getting her into a rhythm.
“She has had two goes on the July course and attacked the downhill part of the straight really well.”
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