Paul Messara’s Al Quoz Sprint winner Ortensia has drawn ideally just worse than mid-field with barrier eight as she looks to bounce back from her failed last start in this weekend’s 2012 July Cup at England’s Newmarket Racecourse – the Piper Heidsieck July Festival’s pinnacle event.
The smart six-year-old Testa Rossa mare finished a below par ninth on June 19 behind Little Bridge in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes (1005m) from gate five of 22 but is tipped for improvement on Sunday morning (AEST) in the £400,000 Group 1 Darley July Cup (1207m).
A final field of 15 sprinters has been released for the July Cup 2012, Ortensia to be ridden by in-form British jockey William Buick from barrier eight.
Messara this week confirmed Ortensia, who currently occupies the third line of July Cup betting at a quote of $7.50 at the Aussie bookies, would definitely line-up in the July Cup despite the high possibility of a rain-affected track.
One horse that could be sensationally scratched from the July Cup field if the course is too soft is last year’s runner-up Bated Breath, the current $4 favourite also drawing well with barrier five.
A four time Group 1 runner-up, the Roger Charlton-trained Bated Breath is out to finally break their elite level duck in the July Cup but could struggle with the unsuitable conditions at Headquarters.
Another top fancy in the July Cup odds that has drawn wider is Society Rock ($5.50) in barrier 12, the James Fanshawe-trained stallion coming off a game fifth to undefeated Aussie turf star Black Caviar in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (1207m) at Royal Ascot.
While Ortensia is the sole Australian-trained horse in the race another Aussie-bred galloper will be getting plenty of love from the punters down under with the former Peter Snowden-trained Sepoy to have his swansong race appearance.
Sepoy, who is set for a valuable career at stud, drew perfectly with gate four but is another top hope that could be scratched if the course is downgraded further before jump time.
The four-time elite level winner and holder of the 2011 Blue Diamond Stakes – Golden Slipper double hasn’t raced since their failed international debut on Dubai World Cup night when 10th to Krypton Factor in the Group 1 Golden Shaheen (1200m).
If they do line up new trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni is confident of a return to form before they bow out for good.
“He’s a good horse and he’s back now,” Al Zarooni said.
“When he arrived here (at Newmarket) he was a bit down. We gave him an easy time to recover. He has recovered and is in good form.
“He did a piece of work on Saturday and he’s showing that sort of form (that he had in Australia).”
Sepoy pays $10 for their English debut this weekend, an equal price with Richard Hannon’s Strong Suit (barrier two).
Other notable chances include the David Marnane-trained Wokingham winner Dandy Boy ($11), Libranno ($13) who ran a close fourth to Dram Ahead in last year’s July Cup, and progressive four-year-old Sirius Prospect ($13).
Winner of the Listed Wentworth Stakes (1207m) in Britain last November, Gone West stallion Sirius Prospect has failed to record a minor placing since but connections took confidence out of their brave seventh when beaten only three lengths by Black Caviar in the Diamond Jubilee last time out.
“Sirius Prospect is definitely an intended runner in the Darley July Cup,” trainer Dean Ivory said.
“I was delighted with his run in the Diamond Jubilee and he has come out of that race the best that he has come out of a race all year.
“He wore a hood and blinkers for the first time at Royal Ascot and he will be wearing both again at Newmarket.
“I think that it helps him a little bit because he can get a little bit wound up in the stalls, like a lot of sprinters do. I don’t want to lose a length or two in races like this and it gives him a bit more focus.
“The ground won’t be a problem for him, as long as it is not heavy. He seems to run on all ground and, ideally, I would be happy with good to soft or soft because we know he goes on it.
“It took a while for him to get going this season but I think his run in the Diamond Jubilee proved a lot.
“He was drawn the opposite side to Black Caviar and had to race away from the pace. If he puts in a similar race at Newmarket, then I would like to think that he will be there or thereabouts.”
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2012 Darley July Cup Final Field & Barrier Draw
|No. (Barrier)||Form||Horse||Age||Wgt (lb)||Trainer||Jockey|
|1 (5)||9228-12||Bated Breath 25||5||9-5||R Charlton||J Doyle|
|2 (15)||7-59921||Dandy Boy (ITY) 21||6||9-5||D Marnane||P Dobbs|
|3 (9)||458-940||Genki (IRE) 21||8||9-5 v||R Charlton||Martin Harley|
|4 (3)||1004-03||Hawkeyethenoo (IRE) 21||6||9-5||J S Goldie||G Lee|
|5 (1)||121156||Krypton Factor 21||4||9-5 b||F Nass||L Morris|
|6 (7)||30-5011||Libranno 14||4||9-5||R Hannon||P Cosgrave|
|7 (11)||2-31105||Mayson 14||4||9-5||R A Fahey||P Hanagan|
|8 (4)||1111-50||Sepoy (AUS) 105||4||9-5||M Al Zarooni||L Dettori|
|9 (13)||11-9807||Sirius Prospect (USA) 21||4||9-5 hb||D K Ivory||S W Kelly|
|10 (12)||2600-35||Society Rock (IRE) 21||5||9-5||J R Fanshawe||R L Moore|
|11 (2)||13110-0||Strong Suit (USA) 25||4||9-5||R Hannon||R Hughes|
|12 (10)||433-120||The Cheka (IRE) 21||6||9-5 v1||Eve Johnson Houghton||J Fortune|
|13 (8)||7011-19||Ortensia (AUS) 25||7||9-2||P Messara||William Buick|
|14 (14)||5613-30||Reply (IRE) 24||3||8-13 v1||A P O’Brien||J P O’Brien|
|15 (6)||22-2561||Fire Lily (IRE) 30||3||8-10||D Wachman||W M Lordan|