x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Ortensia's success sets up a possible return trip to Dubai

Plan for a return trip for World Cup is on the horizon.

Ortensia's good form has heightened hopes she will race in Dubai next year at the World Cup.
Ortensia's good form has heightened hopes she will race in Dubai next year at the World Cup.

Ortensia's run in the Group 1 Sprint Cup at Haydock tomorrow week is unlikely to be her last and Paul Messara hopes that the reigning Al Quoz Sprint champion will come back to Dubai next season to defend her crown.

The seven-year-old mare set alight Meydan Racecourse with a searing turn of pace to win the five-furlong feature on World Cup night in March.

She then moved to Newmarket in England and has augmented her victory in Dubai with a Group 2 at Glorious Goodwood and the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York a week ago.

Her success has prompted a rethink from her owners and trainer as her continued presence in England has restricted her breeding opportunities in her native Australia.

It will take almost eight weeks for Ortensia to return to Messara's Arrowfield base in New South Wales after her run at Haydock. With a curtailed period in which to have her first foal connections have decided to persevere with a campaign in Dubai and Australia next season.

"With the form that she is in and healthy as she's been I can't see why we wouldn't have a tilt next year," Messara told The National. "I don't think there is a better performance in her career than York. She'll have a break when she gets home and I'd have no problem racing her in Dubai first up, but it all depends on how she is doing in Australia.

"We loved it in Dubai and given the chance again we'd take the opportunity."

Ortensia boiled over when contesting her first race in England when only ninth in the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.

She was ridden by Craig Williams, the Australian jockey who was on board in Dubai, but William Buick took over the ride when she was fourth in the July Cup on unsuitably soft ground last month.

Buick's association with Ortensia is of considerable interest.

The 23-year-old jockey has ridden in Dubai for the past three seasons for Dhruba Selvaratnam and the owner Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid.

Because of his intimate knowledge of Meydan Racecourse he could therefore be in line to partner her once again should she come to the UAE.

"William has a really good relationship with her," Messara said. "She's one of those horses you take your time with her and let her do her own thing in her own time.

"She's one of those horses and you have to work with her."

Messara had hoped to bring at least another horse to Dubai with the view of running a team at the Carnival but Rekindled Alliance, who was fifth in the Australian Derby, collapsed after a routine workout last week and died.

Elsewhere, Johnny Murtagh, who has also ridden for Selvaratnam, has had his contract as rider to the Aga Khan terminated by the owner-breeder.

Murtagh has won races such as the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Ascot Gold Cup in Aga Khan's green and red silks.

"I was informed yesterday afternoon that my contract to ride for His Highness the Aga Khan was terminated with immediate effect," Murtagh said, in a statement.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank His Highness and his staff in his studs in Ireland and France for the very successful years we have had together," the statement added


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