Royal Ascot lures up Aussie stars
Royal Ascot is keen to lure some of Godolphin’s best Australian gallopers for its five-day carnival in June.
Nick Smith, Ascot’s director of racing and public affairs, left Australia on Monday after spending time speaking to connections of horses that are possibly looking to head to Europe.
Included in those were positive talks with Godolphin’s Australian head trainer James Cummings, as well as the connections of Sunlight, Exceedance, Gytrash and Nature Strip.
Smith said discussions with Godolphin focused more around certain races rather than horses, however, Group 1 winners Bivouac and Microphone were possibilities to be on a plane to England.
“They’ve got potentially several horses, lots of ammunition,” Smith said.
“(Managing director) Vin Cox, who I spent some time with, certainly had some interesting ideas in what might happen at the end of the year. But they have to tie in with the European team and the wider Godolphin team.
“I know James Cummings well enough, and we had a lunch as well (to discuss plans).
“They’ve got that much ammunition … it’s more a question of not talking about the horses directly but talking about opportunities and the principals of racing. It’s more a wider conversation with Godolphin.”
Smith was hopeful of luring star three-year-old Exceedance, who he labelled as a ‘proper-class act’.
“He would be one that would certainly be a candidate,” he said.
“I know Neil Werrett very, very well and he is linked in with the Vinery team and they are making all the right noises.”
Smith said Nature Strip had lost no admirers despite a disappointing performance in the Black Caviar Lightning at Flemington.
“The connections were so keen before the Lightning, and obviously the Lightning looked to be a reasonably comfortable task for him but that didn’t prove to be,” he said.
“I said to the connections after the race … it’s one of those runs you need to put a line through.
“I’m a big believer in not overreacting to one run and Nature Strip has been in the past guilty of throwing in the odd less-convincing run.
“I guess we will have another look at Nature Strip when the next opportunity arises, after the Newmarket (Handicap). Hopefully he will come through.”
He said the race also threw up another possible contender in Gordon Richards-trained Gytrash.
“I don’t think it’s disrespectful to say that Gytrash wasn’t really on the radar at the time. But having said that it’s very much on the radar now,” he said.
“I had a great conversation with the owners and the trainers after the race. I think they are slightly overwhelmed by the unexpected victory and they wanted some time to go away and think about it.”