The cheers of the many Australians at Royal Ascot will be matched in the Hunter Valley if brilliant sprinter Ortensia wins on the meeting’s opening day.
Pictured: Paul Messara’s latest star Ortensia & her regular track rider Leah Gavranich in full flight during trackwork at Newmarket on Wednesday 13 June. (PHOTO: courtesy of Leah Gavranich)
Along with almost 1300 other Followers, Arrowfield Stud has naturally been tracking the progress of brilliant sprinter Ortensia towards tomorrow’s Royal Ascot King’s Stand S. G1 on her trainer Paul Messara’sTwitter feed .
Paul has regularly posted engaging videos of Ortensia’s trackwork in the glorious setting of Newmarket – click here to view the latest video , of her final gallop before Royal Ascot.
It has been quite a journey for the 6YO mare, Paul and his stable team, her owners Alistair Fraser, Emma Ridley & Annie Fraser, and her devoted attendant Leah Gavranich, from the Arrowfield Training Centre near Scone, to a bid for three Group 1 victories in three countries, in consecutive starts.
The King’s Stand has an intriguing history, beginning with bad weather at the 1860 Royal Ascot meeting. That year only five furlongs of the two-mile course used for the Royal Stand Plate was raceable, so the name was amended to the Queen’s Stand Plate and won, rather appropriately, by Queen of the Vale. The race was then contested at its new distance each year until the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, when it was re-named the King’s Stand Stakes. The name has stuck through the reigns of Edward VII, George V & George VI, through to 2012, the Diamond Jubilee year of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.
The race was awarded Group 1 status in 1973, and won during the 1970s and 1980s by horses such as Marwell, Habibti, Godswalk and Last Tycoon, but was downgraded to Group 2 level in 1988. The number of top-class international sprinters contesting the race over the past decade has helped to restore its prestige and in 2008 the King’s Stand regained its Group 1 designation.
Four Australian-bred sprinters have won the race since 2002: Choisir (2003), Takeover Target (2006), Miss Andretti (2007) and Scenic Blast (2009).
Paul Messara made his first trip to Royal Ascot in 2010 with Flying Spur ‘s daughter Alverta, who travelled poorly, and was unplaced in the Golden Jubilee Stakes. However, in Paul & Leah’s care, she recovered well enough to run a magnificent fighting third three weeks later in the Newmarket July Cup G1. Alverta retired a year ago and is due to deliver her first foal by Charge Forward this spring.
Glogirl, Ortensia’s half-sister by General Nediym, was also among the mares visiting Arrowfield stallions in 2011. She was sent by her owner Robert Anderson to Not A Single Doubt .
Bred by Len Rhodes, at his Riverdene Stud near Corowa in southwestern New South Wales, Ortensia was purchased for $50,000 by agent Steve Brem at the 2007 Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale. By Redoute’s Choice’s great racing rival Testa Rossa, she is from Aerate’s Pick, an unraced sibling of Group 3 winners Intelligent Star and Blaze the Turf. This is the extended family of champion 2YO Bint Marscay and Group 1 winners Benicio, Filante, Kenny’s Best Pal & Stella Cadente.
All fingers remain tightly crossed, but as the videos show, Ortensia is in first-class shape for her Royal Ascot assignment, to be shown live on TVN and Sky Racing World at 12.05 am Australian time on Wednesday 20 June.