Top Australian jockey Craig Williams will keep his high international profile flying when travels to England to ride Ortensia at Royal Ascot tomorrow after another successful weekend in Japan.

Craig Williams

Craig Williams will ride Ortensia at Royal Ascot - photo © Taron Clarke

Williams is currently riding in Japan on a three month contract with plenty of success, completing another winning double at Hanshin on Sunday, including a win on the Katsushiko Sumii-trained Gullveig in the Group 3 Mermaid Stakes (2000m).

The Paul Messara trainer Ortensia has drawn barrier five in the big field of twenty-three in the Group 1 £350,000 The King’s Stand Stakes (5 furlongs) at Royal Ascot tomorrow and is a chance of backing up in the Group 1 £500,000 The Diamond Jubilee Stakes (1200m) at Royal Ascot on Saturday.

While Williams will be available to ride Ortensia in the King’s Stand, his Japanese commitments won’t allow him to partner the mare if she runs on Saturday and he will also miss out on the ride Dunaden in the Group 2 £200,000 Hardwicke Stakes (1 mile 4 furlongs) at Royal Ascot on June 23.

“Unfortunately for Craig he has to be back in Japan and he can’t ride on the Saturday of Royal Ascot,” the jockey’s Australian riding agent Mark Guest said.

“Sometimes he is allowed to ride elsewhere at the weekends but he couldn’t get the time off this time.”

Messara was hoping for a middle gate in the big field to give Williams plenty of options if the field started to break up.

“A middle barrier will give Craig some options,’ Messara said.

“The field could go either side of the course, they might split or come straight up the middle.

“This mare needs plenty of galloping room and I wouldn’t like to see her drawn near the rails and having to duck and weave her way through a field.’

Ortensia has been quoted at 11-2 in the early betting just behind race favourite Bated Breath (5-1) who has drawn eight while the French galloper Whiz Kid (6-1) has drawn on the opposite side of the track at fifteen.

The Testa Rosa mare has won three from three for new trainer Messara and is going for her third Group 1 in succession.

After winning a Listed race at Flemington over the Melbourne Cup Carnival, Messara took Ortensia to Perth where she won the Group 1 $505,000 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot.

Messara then ventured to Dubai with the mare and took on the international sprinters and proved too strong for them, winning the Group 1 US$1m Al Quoz Sprint (1000m) at Meydan on March 31.

Trainer Roger Charlton hasn’t confirmed a start for Bated Breath in the King’s Stand Stakes and if the ground is too soft, he is likely to wait and take on Black Caviar in the Diamond Jubilee on Saturday.

“With the ground being described as soft and good to soft in places at Ascot, I will continue to monitor the situation before deciding whether Bated Breath will take his chance in the King’s Stand on Tuesday or the Diamond Jubilee on Saturday.”

“The chances are that he will be declared for the King’s Stand and a decision will be made, if necessary, an hour before the race as his preference would be for faster ground.”

“Let’s hope that we get some wind and sunshine before then as Ascot can dry out quite quickly,” Charlton said.

About The Author

Mark Mazzaglia

Mark is a passionate journalist with a life-time involvement in the racing industry. He spent many years as an analyst and form expert at the Courier Mail and also has hands-on experience working with some of Queensland’s top trainers.