Ortensia: Aussie mare disputing favouritism for next week's NunthorpePICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Ortensia in great form as her big York date looms
PAUL MESSARA is hoping he can bag another notable prize with his star mare Ortensia before returning to Australia.
The seven-year-old is challenging for favouritism for the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York next Friday when she will be trying to nab a third Group 1 win as well as a chunk of the £250,000 prize fund.
The early part of Ortensia's UK visit did not go to plan with the wet conditions hindering her chance in both the King's Stand Stakes and the Darley July Cup.
However, her gutsy fourth at Newmarket gave hope to connections that she was on the way back and she rewarded their faith with a win in the King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
She showed an impressive turn of foot that day to come from nearly last to first, beating Spirit Quartz in a very good time.
Messara said: "She's in great form. She came through her last race really well and we were happy with her work this morning.
"Her conditions came right at Goodwood and she showed how good she is. The warmer weather has really helped her and I'm looking forward to running her at York."
The Nunthorpe has been the aim for David Barron's progressive sprinter Pearl Secret for some time and the son of Compton Place goes into the race with his unbeaten record standing at four.
He has won over course and distance twice and was last seen winning a Listed race at Sandown in decent style.
Barron said: "I am very happy with Pearl Secret and he worked very well this morning. Ideally I'd like him to have more experience coming into a race like this as it is a big step up.
"However, he is a very good horse and he has won at York twice before. He needs a fast pace but I can't see that not happening in the Coolmore Nunthorpe.
"He was a little nervous in his younger days and we were keen to avoid the buzz of Ascot for a bit longer, deciding that York was a better time to step him up."
Kevin Ryan could have three runners in the race. He said: "Tiddliwinks seems to love York and always saves his ‘A game' for there. He likes good ground and has had a break since his last run.
"We were a little disappointed with Masamah's run in the race last year but he is a very good horse. We were delighted with his run at Goodwood last time. It was a better race than when he won last year and that performance was right up there with his best.
"We are hoping that a return to York will help Bogart reproduce his best form."
Godolphin could run Soul who finished best of the British-trained runners when third behind Black Caviar in the Golden Jubilee Stakes before easily winning the Hackwood Stakes at Newbury.
Simon Crisford, racing manager to Godolphin, said: "If the ground came up soft I could see him running a huge race. If the ground was quick he may not be fast enough for five at York as his main targets are over six."