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Ortensia wins Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York Racecourse
AUSTRALIAN trainer Paul Messara considered pulling Ortensia out of the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes – but was rewarded for his perseverance after the mare provided a spectacular late show to claim the £250,000 York Racecourse prize.
He admitting to fearing the worst following Thursday’s heavy rain shower and, having walked the track before the five-furlong dash, took to Twitter to voice his fears at ground he worried would be too heavy for his speed machine.
“So frustrating,” he wrote, adding: “No good news for horses wanting dry ground. Far softer than expected. Would be rated as heavy in Australia.”
Deciding to run her, the seven-year-old (7-2 jt-fav) was up against it from the start after being struck by a stalls blindfold discarded by Eddie Ahern riding Confessional.
But, with William Buick in the saddle, Ortensia scorched past a host of runners on the far rail to get home by a neck over Spirit Quartz close to the line.
Hamish McGonagall (14-1), trained by Tim Easterby at Great Habton, had first run for home but was unable to stay the course – adding a third-place finish to his runner-up spot of 12 months ago.
For Ortensia, it was another top British prize scooped by the Aussie mare to add to her triumph in the King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
“I was very pessimistic,” said Messara of the ground after his mare’s late show landed him York’s fastest race.
“She is at her best on top of the ground. It makes a huge difference to her and she has very fast acceleration. It is that traction that she misses. I walked the track in the morning and I thought it would be too soft for her. I thought maybe I should have stayed at home.”When asked whether he had thought about pulling his mare out of the contest, Messara added: “I considered it. I thought if we had a drying day it would be okay. If it had been dry I would have been bullish.”
Rider Buick added: “I can’t remember ever seeing, and certainly not riding, a horse that can go through so many gears over the five furlongs. It’s like she knows where the winning line is.
“She’s an amazing mare, you just have to ride her as she wants to be ridden. She’s the boss, really.”