Ortensia: failed to handle pre-race conditions at Royal AscotPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Messara predicts better Ortensia in July Cup
ORTENSIA is expected to bounce back to form in the Darley July Cup on Saturday following her below par run at Royal Ascot where her chances were severely compromised by failing to handle the pre-race atmosphere according to her trainer Paul Messara.
Sent off favourite for the 5f Group 1 at Ascot, Ortensia failed to pick up when asked by jockey Craig Williams and faded into ninth behind Hong Kong raider Little Bridge.
However, Messara feels that Ortensia's chances were all but gone before the race after she became agitated in the paddock and has attempted to prevent the same thing happening by putting in extra paddock schooling at Newmarket with his star mare as well as working her on the track itself.
Her task was made a little easier on Monday when Aidan O'Brien did not confirm ante-post second favourite Excelebration among the 21 for the race, to which Strong Suit and Dandy Boy were supplemented.
He said: "Everything went wrong on the day and prior to the race [at Ascot]. She didn't handle the parade ring and really broke out in quite a big sweat. When we came to saddling her she was very het up and agitated and had run her race before she got there.
"She ran an average race but all accounts and pulled up with a bit of a sore back and had whacked one of her joints but everything has settled down and I think the Newmarket environment is better.
"We've done a bit of paddock schooling prior to her work here so we're hoping it will be more suitable on the day."
Ortensia is a general 12-1 chance to land the July Cup, a race that has eluded fellow Australian raiders Choisir, Exceed And Excel, Falkirk, Takeover Target, Bentley's Biscuit, Scenic Blast, Nicconi, Star Witness and the Messara-trained Alverta.
"She's still working really well and I can see her running her best on Saturday," Messara told At The Races. "She worked on the course proper here and I'm very pleased with her going into the race.
"We prefer [the ground] the firmer the better - it's no doubt the track here is very soft but if she can run up to her best, she can be involved in the finish. We expect her to bounce back and she'll certainly be competitive."