Ortensia struck another blow for the prowess of Australian turf sprinters as the mare burst from near the tail of the field to win the Group 1 US$1 million Al Quoz Sprint, sponsored by Emirates NBD.
Trained by Paul Messara and coolly ridden by Craig Williams, Ortensia looked to have plenty to do halfway during the 1,000m dash down the Meydan straight before unleashing a matchless finishing kick in the final furlong to score by a length and quarter from Irish sprinter Sole Power with Joy And Fun and neck back in third.
The winning time of 57.98 seconds was three-tenths of a second outside the track record.
Ortensia has maintained a perfect three for three record since joining Messara last year and the young trainer was overjoyed saying: “I had my heart in my mouth. I can’t believe she has won it. I jumped so high when she hit the line I lost my phone! At the 400m I was sweating bullets because I thought she would be a lot closer but Craig knew what he was doing. He knows her so well. She goes to England in seven days and she is going to run in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot over the same distance.”
Williams returned to scale with the Australian flag draped over his shoulders and was celebrating the first Aussie winner on World Cup night since Elvstroem in the 2005 Dubai Duty Free.
“I have had 20 rides on the mare for four wins – she has been unlucky in a few but she was brilliant today,” the winning rider said.
“We knew what her weaknesses were going but we also knew her strengths and the race panned out perfectly. I was able to get into clear running inside the last 300m and she had an explosive turn of foot.”
Post Race Quotes for the Group 1 US$1 million Al Quoz Sprint, sponsored by Emirates NBD
Craig Williams (Ortensia, 1st) – “It wasn’t easy but I was happy with the position that I got. She wasn’t good enough for Hong Kong but she’s improved.
John Murtagh (Sole Power, 2nd) – “I thought I had it won. The Australian mare just flew past me.”
Brett Doyle (Joy And Fun, 3rd) – “He missed the start then I had to hustle him forward. I led at about the 50 metres and had no extra late on. If I hadn’t missed the start, I’d have gotten second.”
Patrick Cosgrave (Monsieur Joe, 4th) – “He did the team proud. I think on the inside they watered a little bit more which was a little bit of a disadvantage but he ran a great race.”
Glyn Schofield (August Rush, 5th) – “He ran super. I was probably close to the lead 300m out but he didn’t quite finish the race off. “
Ryan Moore (Nocturnal Affair, 6th) – “I was happy with that. He ran a good race.”
Jamie Spencer (Invincible Ash, 7th) – “They congregated towards the rail, which probably did not suit me. It was a tough race and we were beaten around two lengths. It could have gone better.”
George Baker (Secret Asset, 8th) – “He’s run well and wasn’t beaten far. It was his first run for a while so I was very pleased.
Kieren Fallon (Better Be The One , 9th) – “He broke too well and I had to take him back. We probably got too far back because he was finishing real well and could have done with another furlong.”
Hayley Turner (Margot Did, 10th) – “She jumped and raced fro the first stride and was the last horse off the bridle. It might be better if we can try to get her to drop her head. She needs to finish off her races.
Kevin Shea (War Artist, 11th) – “He had every chance but he’s a little older bow and he wasn’t good enough tonight.”
Yuichi Fukunaga (A Shin Virgo, 12th) – “She started very good and was in the leading group but she didn’t have any response and didn’t have the same turn of foot as the winner in the closing stages of the race but the turf suited her.”
Jim Crowley (Prohibit, 13th) – “I’m disappointed. The horse doesn’t seem quite right at the moment. It was like his last run and we hoped we had him back but we haven’t so it’s disappointing. He;s lost his way but hopefully Robert (Cowell) will have him back on track for the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot.”
Corey Nakatani (Regally Ready, 14th) – “We got away great. He seemed like he wasn’t handling the straightaway. He’s better than that.”
Adrian Nicholls (Addictive Dream, 15th) – “He ran well. He won a couple of handicaps and he was stepping up into a Group 1. I think we just found him out a little bit. We’re happy with him. We’ll win plenty of races in England with him.”