Sam Freedman is confident Australian raider Artorius can go two places better than last year’s third in the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes when he returns to Royal Ascot on Saturday week.
The son of Flying Artie was somewhat unfortunate in the six-furlong Group One 12 months ago, running on strongly from a position at the rear of the field to be beaten less than a length despite seeing his progress hampered throughout the contest.
He went on to place in the July Cup before also running with credit at Deauville in the Prix Maurice de Gheest and Freedman – who trains in partnership with his father, Anthony – believes he has the four-year-old in great order ahead of his second appearance at the summer showpiece.
He said: “Artorius travelled over well. He only lost 4kg on the flight, whereas last year he lost 9kg, and he has put on 6kg or 7kg since he arrived in Newmarket last Thursday night – he is thriving. He had a little blow on the watered gallop on Tuesday morning, not a lot, just quickening up a furlong, and tomorrow morning he will do his main bit of work at Ascot.
“He is definitely stronger than last year and has come back a better horse. He was probably not going as well last year on the back of the carnivals.”
Artorius arrives in the UK having scooped Group One honours at Randwick in March and then went on to finish a close-up fourth to the all-conquering Anamoe on his next start – two performances which give his training team confidence about unlocking that little extra required to find the Ascot scoresheet.
“We stretched him out over seven and a half furlongs when he met Anamoe last time and he was beaten only three-quarters of a length,” continued Freedman.
“Previous to that, he had won a Group One over six and a half furlongs and what you will see, hopefully, in his run is a little more practical speed.
“I am not suggesting that he is going to be up near the pace or anything like that but, hopefully, if he can be three or four lengths closer than 12 months ago, it will help. That is what we have been trying to work on for the past 12 months.
“We knew we needed to work on his speed from the gate before last year, but we thought it was a real balancing act to get him to relax and in his comfort zone.
“Since that run, we have done a lot of work with him to see if he could still finish off riding him a lot closer and he did that when winning a Group One two starts back.
“It is something we have consciously been working on and, at the level we are going to be racing at in this race, being the best sprint race in Europe, you can’t afford to be giving 12 lengths with a couple of furlongs to go – you are probably not going to pick them up.”
Artorius was ridden by Jamie Spencer when picking up the bronze medal in 2022, but he will be partnered by Antipodean ace James McDonald for the first time on this occasion.
Freedman added: “James McDonald has done a bit of work with him at home and knows the horse pretty well. He has been keen to get on the horse for a while.
“We offered the ride to Zac Purton but he is trying to break the record in Hong Kong and next port of call was always going to be J-Mac. That is not to say that Jamie Spencer didn’t ride him correctly last year – he rode to instructions and rode him very well.”