On the Rails
We can only rub our hands with glee at the prospects which must be queueing up for Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint invitations if press reports in Australia are correct that Jockey Club officials are wrestling with whether or not to invite Ortensia.
Her selection has, according to media reports, been clouded by the fact that she was stripped of her only Group One win in Sydney last April after a four-month inquiry into a positive swab.
The positive was to a substance called ractopamine, found frequently in feed additives for pigs, and considered not to be performance enhancing for racehorses.
The long inquiry ultimately found no-one to blame for deliberately dosing Ortensia and parallels were drawn with cases in Western Australia several years ago, when contaminated feed was found to be the culprit. The only punishment meted out to anyone was the loss of the Group One race, on the basis of a zero tolerance policy with drug positives, but Hong Kong officials are now considering her entry for December in the light of her not being a Group One winner as a result and whatever impact that might have on her international rating.
Ortensia is the only Australian horse aimed at the international meeting and finished third to outstanding Black Caviar in the Global Sprint Challenge leg, the Patinack Classic, during the Melbourne carnival.
We would have thought any legitimate Group One class sprinter from Down Under, where short course racing is of a high standard, would get a start in front of some of the B-graders who have graced the race in the past coming from the US, Britain and Europe, with their international ratings artificially high on the basis of their origin alone.
But then perhaps the entries are bursting with more worthy contenders and we'll be fascinated to see what gets into the race in front of Ortensia if she does miss out.