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Wednesday 20 March 2019

Ortensia Wins the Nunthorpe Stakes in 2012

Foaled in Australia on September 16, 2005, Ortensia was a daughter of multiple Grade-One winning Australian sprinter Testa Rossa. Owned by an ownership group headed by Alistair Fraser and trained, initially, by Tony Noonan in Mornington, Victoria, Ortensia won eight races in her native country as two-, three- and four-year-old and was first past the post in the James Boag Galaxy at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney, New South Wales, only to be subsequently disqualified after a banned substance was found in her urine sample. 

Consequently, it was not until the age of six, having been transferred to Paul Mesara in Scone, New South Wales, that Ortensia recorded her first legitimate Grade One victory. That victory came in the newly-upgraded Winterbottom Stakes, over 6 furlongs, at Ascot Racecourse in Perth, Western Australia in November 2011. Ortensia had actually won the Winterbottom Stakes before, but her previous victory, as a four-year-old, in 2009 came at a time when the race was still a Grade Two contest. 

Ortensia was subsequently prepared for an international campaign, which began at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, United Arab Emirates the following March. In the Group One Al Quoz Sprint, she was sent off 6/1 joint-second favourite behind Sole Power but, having made smooth progress from the rear with two furlongs to run, led inside the final half a furlong to win by 1¼ lengths. 

For the remainder of 2012, Ortensia was campaigned exclusively in Britain, starting with the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June. On her first start for 80 days, Ortensia was sent off 9/2 joint-favourite but weakened inside the final furlong to finish ninth of 22, beaten 6¾ lengths, behind Little Bridge. She was again fancied for the July Cup at Newmarket the following month when ridden for the first time by William Buick, she started 7/1 fourth favourite but again weakened in the final furlong to finish fourth of twelve, beaten 8¼ lengths, behind Mayson. 

The following month, Buick was aboard again when Ortensia was dropped back to the minimum trip in the King George Stakes at Goodwood and steered her to her first success on British soil. Having raced towards the centre of the course in the stands’ side group, Ortensia made good headway from the rear of the field with over a furlong to run, led inside the final furlong and ran on strongly to beat Spirit Quartz by 1¼ lengths with Masamah a further half a length back in third. Having justified joint-favouritism at Goodwood, Ortensia also started joint-favourite, alongside King’s Stand Stakes runner-up, Bated Breath, at 7/2, for her next appearance, in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York

However, it was her old rival Spirit Quartz who gave her most to do, leading inside the final hundred yards before Ortensia, who looked to have a hopeless task at halfway, burst through on the far side rail to snatch the spoils by a neck in a thrilling finish. Hamish McGonagall, who’d been runner-up in 2011, finished third beaten a further 1¼ lengths after setting a strong pace. 

Following her return to Australia, Ortensia ran just twice as a seven-year-old, finishing eleventh of 13, beaten 4¼ lengths, in the Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield and twelfth of 13, beaten 10¼ lengths, in the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington. Nevertheless, at the end of her career, she had won 13 of her 37 starts – including Group One contests in three different countries – and over £1.4 million in total prize money.

Watch Ortensia win the Nunthorpe Stakes 2012 at York