Messara targeting Nunthorpe glory for Ortensia

Australian trainer Paul Messara has high hopes for Ortensia in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York on Friday week.

The seven-year-old mare showed her true colours with a sparkling win in the King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood after being slightly disappointing on her first two races on these shores.

Britain’s wet summer was blamed for the Al Quoz Sprint victor not quite hitting the heights in Royal Ascot’s King’s Stand Stakes and the Darley July Cup, although her fourth in the latter event at Newmarket gave hope to connections that she was on the way back.

And she repaid their faith in the five-furlong Group Two earlier this month. 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 he goes into the race unbeaten in four starts.

He has won over course and distance twice and was last seen winning a Listed race at Sandown in decent fashion.

North Yorkshire-based 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 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.”

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.

Godolphin’s racing manager Simon Crisford 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 furlongs at York as his main targets are over six.”

David Marnane is excited about the prospect of running his star sprinters Dandy Boy and Nocturnal Affair on the Knavesmire.

Dandy Boy gave his Irish trainer a taste of Royal Ascot glory when landing the Wokingham Stakes in June, but he failed to get competitive in a July Cup run in very testing conditions.

Marnane admits dropping back to five furlongs is not ideal, but he is keen to find out whether the six-year-old is a genuine Group One performer.

“We’ve had a think about it and we’ve decided we’re going to have a crack at the Nunthorpe with Dandy Boy, weather permitting,” said Marnane.

“It is going to depend on there being decent ground at York, but there are a lack of opportunities for him and that’s the way we’re thinking at the moment. Five furlongs might be a little bit sharp for him, but it should give us a good picture of where we are and give us some idea about whether he’s up to that level.”

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