PAUL MESSARA believes Craig Williams must produce a ride the equal of his Caulfield Cup masterpiece on Dunaden for Ortensia to win the Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield on Saturday.
Williams came from last on Dunaden to overpower a field of quality stayers carrying topweight to take Caulfield's showpiece race in October.
"It is never easy around Caulfield because you have to spin off the turn and not lose momentum, especially in a race with as much speed as this one," Messara said. "It will take a brilliant ride because she is giving everything weight and probably a little bit of luck but I think she is up to it. We just want a genuine speed."
Favourite Barakey, Sea Lord, Adebisi, Mrs Onassis and Shamal Wind, from the inside gate, are all expected to push for the lead and it may make the race for backmarkers, like last year when Woorim flew home for victory.
Ortensia has drawn gate four, which Messara said could make her task harder given she will not be in the early speed battle.
"In some ways I would have liked to draw out because then you don't have the worry of trying to get out to make your run," he said. "With the big weight [Ortensia] can not get stopped because they will be going too quickly to overcome any bad luck. We have the right jockey in Craig to make sure things go right."
Ortensia enjoyed a stellar globetrotting year in 2012, winning the Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai before an English campaign, where she won the King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and the Nunthorpe Stakes at the York festival to make it 13 wins in her 35-race career. The seven-year-old has a good record at Caulfield with two wins and a third from four starts after doing her early racing in Melbourne when trained by Tony Noonan.
Since joining the Messara yard she has an excellent record fresh, winning twice first-up from a spell. "She is up to the mark but we are looking at races further into the preparation," Messara said. "She will come back to Sydney for the Challenge Stakes after this run and then we will take on Black Caviar in the TJ Smith, when she will be at her peak."
Messara decided to wait a week and miss a first-up showdown with Black Caviar when he felt Ortensia was a gallop short.
Unbeaten West Australian Barakey remains a solid $3.50 TAB.com.au favourite but punters have avoided the next couple in the market with Ortensia blowing from $7 to $7.50.
"Barakey has been the most popular runner but we really haven't written a big bet for him," TAB's Glenn Munsie said. "The punters have backed those at double-figure odds like Woorim, Spirit Of Boom, Facile Tigre and Lone Rock looking for value."