x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Ortensia proof of success

Mare's success in the northern hemisphere may lead to extended stays for Australian runners by their trainers and owners.

After winning the Al Quoz Sprint, Ortensia went on to have a successful season in England.
After winning the Al Quoz Sprint, Ortensia went on to have a successful season in England.

Ortensia's extensive campaign in the northern hemisphere could well encourage more Australian trainers to travel to Europe and compete beyond Royal Ascot.

Ortensia's 2012 season began in the UAE with a victory in the Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan Racecourse in March before she recorded a brace of victories in England.

She failed to build on her Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes success in the Sprint Cup at Haydock on Saturday and entered quarantine to return to Australia yesterday.

"I think our trip has opened the eyes of Australia to the possibility of something more than just a single race assault," Leah Gavranich, the travelling head lass to the trainer Paul Messara, told The National.

"I think it will pave the way for a strong Australian contingent next year and I wouldn't be surprised if a few stay to race beyond Royal Ascot."

Ortensia will remain in the same quarantine facility Black Caviar used for three weeks before flying back to Sydney to endure another three weeks of quarantine.

She will then enjoy a southern hemisphere spring break before being prepared for a likely defence of her crown in Dubai in March on World Cup night.

"It hasn't nearly been as hard as I thought it would be. Sure, I haven't had an afternoon or morning off for six months, but I would do it again in a heartbeat," Gavranich said.

"You have to have the right horse and they almost have to have [more of a] mentality to travel than ability. Of course, you have to have a horse that can win, but Ortensia eats well and does what she is told."

Although Black Caviar won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, there were many in Australia who questioned the logic of taking the world's best sprinter to England.

Among those doubters were the trainer Peter Moody, who brought his mare over according to the wishes of the syndicate that owns the undefeated sprinter.

"It was odd when Black Caviar came over because there were people back home who criticised her trip," Gavranich said. "When she didn't run to her best they were bitter about it, and it left a sour taste.

"Hopefully, Ortensia flying the flag for Australia throughout this northern hemisphere season has made it easier for them to swallow, because we have shown exactly how good Black Caviar is.

"The only time Ortensia raced her she got beaten by just over six lengths."

Moody revealed at the weekend that he was close to scratching Black Caviar from the Diamond Jubilee the night before the race in June. The six year old ran well below her best when scraping home in the Group 1 contest and although there was talk of retirement afterwards, Moody was upbeat about continuing her career when speaking at the Racing Queensland awards ceremony in Brisbane.

"Maybe I did a little bit too much, but I just wanted to make sure everything was working," he said. "I didn't want to make excuses before the race because you look like an idiot for doing it.

"She has the next 21 days to prove she wants to keep racing. If she does she will go out for a spell next month and come back into work in November and prepare for the autumn."