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A spring carnival mainstay since her three-year-old season, smart mare Ortensia is on track for another tilt at Melbourne’s riches.

Formerly prepared by Tony Noonan, Ortensia has joined the Paul Messara stable and is being prepared for a belated carnival bid.

Messara is taking a softly, softly approach with the six-year-old but has been pleased with her two recent barrier trials including a 900m heat win at Rosehill on Tuesday.

“She’s going really well,” Messara said.

“She’ll head to Melbourne and we’ll pick out a race for her there.

“I’m taking it very slowly with her. She’s an older mare and it’s a matter of keeping her happy and sound.”

Ortensia signalled her potential in the spring of 2008 when she won the Group Three Thousand Guineas Prelude (1400m).

A year later she was runner-up in a Listed race on Melbourne Cup day before going on to win the Group Two Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) in Perth two starts later.

In the autumn of 2010, Ortensia won the Group One Galaxy but was stripped of the race when she returned a positive swab with feed contamination the only explanation Noonan, who was not penalised, could offer.

She was again competitive last spring finishing third behind Black Caviar and Star Witness in the Group One Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) ahead of a brave fifth in the Hong Kong International Sprint.

She hasn’t raced since finishing down the track in The Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville in May and is yet to sport silks for Messara on race day.

Messara said Ortensia was unlikely to have another trial and it was just a matter of finding her a suitable first-up assignment.

“I’ll just keep her ticking over,” he said.

“Fitness-wise she is pretty much ready, we just have to see where we go.”

Ortensia will be joined in Melbourne by stablemate Mahisara who finished third behind Hot Snitzel and Combat Kitty in Saturday’s Listed Brian Crowley Stakes at Randwick.

He is being aimed towards the Group Two Sandown Guineas (1600m) on November 12.


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