Scenic Blast to bypass Golden Jubilee
Australian sensation Scenic Blast will not attempt to win all three British legs of the Global Sprint Challenge despite enjoying a breathtaking victory at Royal Ascot.
The four-year-old blitzed the field of top European sprinters to become the fourth Australian horse in seven years to win the Challenge’s opening race in Britain, the Group One King’s Stand Stakes (1000m) on Tuesday.
But while Perth trainer Dan Morton was jubilant, he pulled the gelding out of the Challenge’s next leg, the prestigious Jubilee Stakes on Saturday.
Instead, Morton will concentrate on preparing Scenic Blast for the final British leg of the eight-race Challenge, the July Cup at Newmarket in just over three weeks’ time.
"We stayed in the race (the Jubilee Stakes) just as a backstop in case something went pear-shaped and we didn’t make it to this one, or if something went wrong in running him, we couldn’t get out, something silly like that," Morton told reporters.
"It was never really in the game plan and we won’t be changing that.
"We’ll wait for the July Cup.
"For us, to get here as part of the Global Sprint Challenge I thought the important thing was to pick the softest option and hopefully nail it and luckily we did."
While Morton and Scenic Blast were cheered by chants of "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oi, oi, oi" in the parade ring, a last-minute paperwork bungle meant the sprinter nearly missed out on making the starting line-up.
The gelding had arrived without his crucial vaccine certificates, meaning stewards could have scratched him from the race.
But Morton played down suggestions of a last-minute rush to have them faxed from Perth.
"Somebody had them here," he said.
"One of the shipping agents that brought us across (had them). It was no big deal."
Scenic Blast’s brilliant debut at Royal Ascot came after he won the first leg of the Challenge, the Lightning Stakes at Flemington in late January.
With the first two legs of the Challenge under his belt, Scenic Blast has edged closer to claiming a $US1 million ($A1.26 million) bonus if he can win another in a third country – Hong Kong or Japan – later this year.
Asked if the he would continue his Challenge contest on foreign soil, Morton said: "Yes, at least one of them."
Scenic Blast’s win in the King’s Stand Stakes follows that of compatriots Choisir in 2003, Takeover Target in 2006 and Miss Andretti in 2007.
Choisir also became the first Australian horse to claim the King’s Stand-Golden Jubilee double in 2003.
While Scenic Blast will not attempt to replicate Choisir’s golden double, Takeover Target will fly the flag for Australian racing fans on Saturday by contesting the Golden Jubilee for the fourth time.
The Joe Janiak-trained gelding won the King’s Stand Stakes in 2006 and finished third in the Golden Jubilee.
A year later, Takeover Target was beaten by just a head in the Golden Jubilee and he ran fourth in 2008.
Morton said with Scenic Blast out of the race, he would like to see Takeover Target be the second Australian horse to appear in the winner’s circle this week at Royal Ascot.
"We’d like to see him win," Morton said.
"Obviously from home I think everybody would, and realistically I think it is probably a stronger field on Saturday too."
Meanwhile Morton, who had never before travelled to Britain, intends to savour his Royal Ascot victory.
"I’ve never been to the UK before so I`ve taken it as win, lose or draw it’s going to be a great experience for me," he said.
"It’s just so very different (from Australia).
"Obviously, this is Royal Ascot and the Queen’s here and everything’s going on.
"I was sort of in awe of the whole set up when I first arrived."
By Belinda Tasker