THE AUSTRALIANS hope to strike an early blow in this Ashes summer by winning the Group One Diamond Jubilee Stakes – the centrepiece of the fifth and final day of Royal Ascot.
Their charge is headed by Wandjina who will be attempting to provide the legendary Gai Waterhouse with the one victory missing from her otherwise impeccable CV – a Royal Ascot winner.
The daughter of top trainer Tommy J Smith, she has more than 100 Group One wins to her name and became just the second woman in history to saddle a Melbourne Cup winner when Fiorente prevailed in 2013.
Speaking ahead of today’s six furlong test, Waterhouse said of Wandjina: “He’s very relaxed and enjoying himself enormously. I thought his work has been exceptionally bright, he’s got a terrific attitude and he’s extremely well, which is what you want to see going into a big race like this. I think he’s got an outstanding chance and his form coming into this race is tip-top. Wandjina is a very honest horse. He is athletic and masculine. He carries himself well and is already a Group One winner.
“I spoke to the owners and they said they would like to expose him to racing in the northern hemisphere, as he will be retired to stud in August. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think we could be competitive. We have been here before and didn’t succeed, so we are coming back to try to succeed. I rang up Joe Janiak, Takeover Target’s trainer. and said how can a taxi driver win races at Royal Ascot, but a champion trainer finishes last? He said the key is to keep horses fresh.”
There is a second Australian challenger in Brazen Beau, trained by Chris Waller.
Meanwhile Yorkshire hopes rest with Kevin Ryan’s Astaire and David Barron’s Pearl Secret who is making a quick appearance after finishing fourth in Tuesday’s five furlong King’s Stand Stakes. Moviesta, formerly trained by Bryan Smart before being switched to sprint king Eddie Lynam’s yard in Ireland, is another intriguing runner – his owners include former Tottenham and QPR manager Harry Redknapp.