Noonan in game of Russlian roulette with Ortensia
Trainer Tony Noonan has likened the chances of Ortensia being cleared to start in the Stradbroke Handicap to a game of Russian roulette.
Ortensia and Queensland Derby favourite Kutchinsky could miss their Group One assignments at Eagle Farm on Saturday if results of the latest urine samples taken from the pair are positive.
“The stewards took samples last Saturday and it’s just a matter now of wait and see,” Noonan said.
“I can’t see any problems but I didn’t before the Galaxy.
“It’s Russian roulette and I don’t have any idea.”
Queensland Racing’s chief steward Wade Birch expects the results to be known on Thursday morning and warned both horses could be withdrawn if their tests were not clear.
“If the results are positive we would sit down with Tony Noonan and talk about what kind of feeding regime he has in place and what he intends to do leading into Saturday,” Birch said.
“The responsibility still lies with Tony Noonan to produce those horses on race day drug-free.”
Ortensia is currently second favourite at $7 behind Whobegotyou ($2.50) for the Stradbroke.
Birch ordered the pair be tested after Ortensia returned a positive swab following her Group One Galaxy victory at Randwick in April.
Racing NSW stewards and Noonan have refused to divulge the substance which led to the positive finding.
No date has been set by Racing NSW for an inquiry into the positive swab which could result in Ortensia losing her Galaxy victory.
Noonan kept Ortensia and Kutchinsky away from the Breakfast With The Stars trackwork session at Eagle Farm on Tuesday and will give them their final fast gallop on Wednesday.
“I normally gallop my horses on Wednesdays,” he said.
“Both worked really well on Saturday morning and they’ll have their final gallop tomorrow.
“Both are at the top of their game.”
Noonan believes Ortensia will have a few things in her favour in her attempt to become the first mare to win the Stradbroke since Capris in 1936.
Ortensia was an eye-catching fifth to Albert The Fat in the Group One BTC Cup before finishing eighth to Hot Danish in the Group One Doomben 10,000 (1350m) last month.
Craig Williams rode Ortensia in the Galaxy and will be met by Noonan at Brisbane airport on Thursday when he returns from a stint in Japan before reuniting with the four-year-old for the $1 million feature.
“She’s got a couple of plusses going for her,” Noonan said.
“She won the (Group Two) Winterbottom Stakes in Perth at her fourth run from a spell and her two Brisbane runs have both been good.
“She’s better on top of the ground and she’s 3.5 kilos under weight-for-age, and meeting Whobegotyou 1.5 kilos better will do me.”
Ortensia finished third to Black Piranha on a heavy track in last year’s Stradbroke Handicap but Noonan believes she would have won on a firm surface.
“I don’t have any doubt she would have won the Stradbroke last year on a good track,” he said.
By Glenn Davis