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The Antipodean raid on Royal Ascot gets under way with Ortensia in Tuesday's King's Stand Stakes.

Updated: Monday, 18 Jun 2012 11:40 | Comments

Ortensia, though overshadowed by compatriot Black Caviar, has strong claims of Royal Ascot success in Tuesday's King's Stand Stakes
Ortensia, though overshadowed by compatriot Black Caviar, has strong claims of Royal Ascot success in Tuesday's King's Stand Stakes

As Australia watches the every move of Black Caviar at Royal Ascot this week, the Antipodean raid on the big meeting gets under way on the opening afternoon with Ortensia in the King's Stand Stakes.

Behind Diamond Jubilee Stakes-bound Black Caviar at Flemington in November 2010, the mare has hit the headlines in her own right since joining trainer Paul Messara, winning the Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai on World Cup night.

Messara feels the five furlongs at Ascot should be fine for the seven-year-old but, like quite a few trainers in the race, would prefer a sound surface.

He said: "She was the best she had been before Dubai and I feel she is coming into this race in the same sort of form.

"The ground is a concern, she has mixed form on rain-affected tracks and is better on top of the ground. She has a devastating turn of foot on a quick surface.

"If we were running on a drier track I'd be confident but four or five of the horses in the betting also prefer it firm so it could be an open race.

"I've had a really good look at the form and I think we have most of them covered. If we got good ground, I'd assess her chance very well.

"I will always put the horse's welfare first but if she came through the race fine and the weather was fine, then I'd consider running her on Saturday as well. But Black Caviar is the best we have ever seen in the sprinting division.

"I think a stiff five at Ascot would be perfect, although six furlongs in the Darley July Cup would be her limit.

"This is a special week and we're thrilled to be here to compete, it's the championship of racing around the world.

"I think she is better than ever. I've only had her late in her career and the last three starts she has improved."
 

Roger Charlton has been at pains to stress he is likely to make a late decision on Bated Breath's preparation, with concerns lingering over ground suitability.

Should the Berkshire terrain be deemed too soft, he could be rerouted to the Diamond Jubilee at the weekend.

Charlton is, however, happy with his horse's condition coming into the Royal meeting on the back of a track-record breaking success in the Temple Stakes at Haydock.

He told British Champions Series TV: "His work had been good and I thought he was fit and ready to go and I was impressed (at Haydock). He showed lots of speed - bar Sole Power, who maybe got slightly interfered with - he was always winning the race.

"He showed terrific speed two out, he was absolutely flying so we have at least won his Group race.

"I was a bit fed up of finishing second in Group One races and it's my job to make him a stallion. He's got all the assets to be a stallion, he's got a great pedigree, a great temperament and he's got good confirmation.

"He ticked the box a bit when he won a Group Two and it was a course record which was great."

Connections of Joy And Fun are praying for better luck than two years ago when the Hong Kong raider suffered a serious injury in the Golden (now Diamond) Jubilee Stakes.

Trainer Derek Cruz said: "My horse likes a firm track or good to firm but I think he will handle ground that is yielding or just a bit on the soft side.

"He seems to be striding out well in his work and has acclimatised well to Europe.

"He was very unlucky on his last start in Dubai when he half missed the start, hopefully it will be a closer race on Tuesday, when Brett Doyle will ride him.

"I think Ortensia is again the one to beat, but if mine runs up to his normal races then he should be in the firing line.

"We are staying away from Black Caviar by going for the King's Stand and I like to take it one race at a time with him but the July Cup at Newmarket could be on his agenda."

Australian-born Newmarket trainer Jane Chapple-Hyam would be happy with a first four finish for Secret Asset, whose best run came when he was second in the Prix de l'Abbaye.

"Obviously he's been to Meydan and then ran third in the Group One in Singapore," she said.

"I'm very pleased with him. He's eating and training well, so he goes there and at a big price. You just need a bit of luck in running. To be in the first four would be be great."

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