“If we wanted to race for big prizes, we could have stayed home” | Horse racing news

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Jamie Spencer and Artorius in the parade ring during July before their practice on Friday morning

By David Milnes, Newmarket Correspondent

Confidence is building behind Australia’s top sprinter Artorius’ bid for next Saturday’s Group 1 Darley July Cup at Newmarket, where he will try to improve on his excellent third in the Platinum Jubilee Stakes.

The four-year-old is the only foreign visitor to Royal Ascot to remain in Britain for another outing and acquitted himself well last month during a warm-up with Campanelle behind Naval Crown and Creative Force.

Artorius, the Group 1 winner in Australia, is second favorite 7-2 behind Commonwealth Cup winner Perfect Power for the first sprint and enjoyed some match training on the July course under Jamie Spencer on Friday morning.

Trained by Anthony and Sam Freedman, Artorius went four furlongs with Ancient Times (Hayley Turner), a helpful sprint handicapper provided by Harry Eustace to lead the drill.

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Jamie Spencer with Artorius in the saddle boxes during July

Jamie Spencer with Artorius in the saddle boxes during July

Artorius is bidding to become the first Australian-trained sprinter to win the July Cup, with the previous best effort being a second-place finish to Choose behind Oasis Dream in 2003.

Sam Freedman said of the exercise: “We’re still here because of the prestige of the July Cup, not the prize money, and what a victory in such a race could do for the stud’s CV. ‘Artorius. If we wanted to race for a big prize we could have stayed home but that was never our intention.

A notoriously slow starter in his races, Artorius stuck to the script at Ascot where he arrived late to be beaten just three-quarter lengths.

Freedman said of July’s course practice: “He didn’t have a hard canter this morning, but he accelerated it the last two furlongs and just kicked into high gear as he crossed the line. It seemed to handle the track which feels stiffer than Ascot.

“Provided he’s in contact with them between three and two, he should be in business. We expect him to finish quite strong as he usually does.”

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Artorius warms up after his workout

Artorius warms up after his workout

Artorius took a ticket for a late loading at Ascot – to keep him interested at the start, rather than being tricky in the stalls – and he will do it again next Saturday.

Freedman added: “He has really enjoyed being here and his coat has improved since Ascot. If he does well next Saturday, there is a chance he could compete in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville. “

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