Artorius a chance to extend European stay

The July Cup has sometimes been an afterthought for Australian sprinters directed towards Royal Ascot, but it is not the case with Artorius. The 1200-metre Group 1 at Newmarket has been on the agenda since the colt left Australia and it might not even be the final start of his European campaign.

The son of Flying Artie has adapted to life so well in England he could stop by Deauville for the Prix Maurice de Gheest before returning to Australia. He needs to run well on Saturday and jump through a few logistical hoops before being confirmed for the 1300-metre Group on August 7, but co-trainer Sam Freedman said it was a realistic option.

“It just depends on how he goes on Saturday, but there is a decent chance that he’ll go to France,” Freedman said.

“The logistics of getting him there are not all that straightforward. He has to get a couple of further vaccinations and actually getting the horse registered over there is proving difficult enough. So there are a few hurdles to get over to ensure that he can at least travel over there, but it’s our intention that if he runs well and pulls up well that we may well go that way.”

The French option is a clear indication Artorius took no harm from his equal third placing in the Group 1 Platinum Jubilee Stakes (1200m) at Royal Ascot. The colt was one of the hard-luck stories of that race, encountering an untimely check in the final furlong when hitting top gear, but he has come on according to Freedman.

“He seems to have improved out of his run at Ascot,” Freedman said. “The penny probably still hasn’t quite dropped with him but in terms of his attitude, but he’s feeling good and his action is good.

“He’s completely acclimatised over here. He’s got a full summer coat on him now, so he’s going to be presented there on Saturday without any excuses, though he’s a horse that needs that little bit of luck in running and things to go right.”

Artorius, a noted backmarker, will not have as many rivals to contend with in the July Cup as he did at Ascot, which is a plus, and Freedman suspects the testing uphill run to the wire will be in his favour.

“With his racing style we need to try and be a tad closer if possible and I think the stiffer finish will play into his hands,” he said of the sprinter, who will again be ridden by Jamie Spencer. “But only if we can utilise a little bit more tactical speed, at least in the middle stages of the race, when hopefully he can get that little bit closer.”

Such was the impression Artorius made in defeat at Royal Ascot, he is second favourite in most markets for the July Cup, ahead of the two horses who beat him home — Charlie Appleby-trained pair Naval Crown and Creative Force. Favourite is the Richard Fahey-trained Perfect Power, who won the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

Following his European campaign, Artorius will return to Australia where he will be set for the $15 million The Everest (1200m) and $8 million Golden Eagle (1500m) this spring.