New South Wales horseman Paul Messara is wary of new blood against Ortensia, including an unbeaten colt racing in the same silks as Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden, when the sprinting mare continues her international campaign in the Nunthorpe Stakes tomorrow (NZT).
Familiar names, such as July Cup winner Mayson, Kings Stand Stakes runner-up Sole Power and established English sprinters Bated Breath and Dandy Boy are expected to be among Ortensia's Nunthorpe rivals.
However, bookmakers think it might be an emerging sprinter, like the 3-year-old Pearl Secret who poses the biggest threat to Ortensia, while Messara says the inclusion of several 2-year-olds in a possible 30-horse field might hold the key to the 1000m York dash.
"This is the first group race over here with the 2-year-olds involved [for the first time] and they get a massive relief in terms of weight," he said.
"They get around 49kg, so they get a lot off the older horses and that will make it interesting."
Two juveniles remain in the Nunthorpe entry, with the filly Ceiling Kitty, a 16-1 chance in pre-post betting, given a strong chance to upset her older rivals.
Ceiling Kitty, owned by Betfair founder Andrew Black, starred during Royal Ascot, with her victory over Hoyam in the Queen Mary Stakes.
Hoyam is also a Nunthorpe possibility and is rated a 33-1 chance.
Pearl Secret (6-1), who holds down the second line of betting behind Ortensia (5-1), is unbeaten in four starts. The colt is owned by Sheikh Fahad al Thani, a member of Qatar's royal family who came to prominence in Australian racing last year as the owner of Dunaden.
Messara returned to England late last week and he can't fault Ortensia's condition as she tries to go back-to-back overseas after her King George Stakes win at Goodwood.
"She looks a picture of health," Messara said. "She's certainly improved [since Goodwood] and she's probably as good as we could have her."
Messara received some bad news from home yesterday, when his multiple group placegetter Rekindled Alliance collapsed and died from a heart attack shortly after completing trackwork.
Rekindled Alliance finished fifth in the Australian Derby and was runner-up in the group two Phar Lap Stakes and Tulloch Stakes during the autumn.
He was also a valuable stud prospect being by Redoute's Choice out of Rekindled Affair and a brother to Rekindled Interest.