Houtzen primed for a Royal performance

Trent Edmonds says all the signs are positive for Houtzen to run a monster race in Tuesday night's King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, hoping some of the Black Caviar magic rubs off on the flying mare.

For the past 11 weeks, Houtzen has lived in the same box Black Caviar did before her triumphant 2012 Royal Ascot campaign, with Edmonds by her side the whole time, relaying messages back home to his father Toby.

While public expectations aren't as lofty with Houtzen (she's rated a $14 chance with Ladbrokes), Edmonds said the way she's blossomed since being in the UK leads him and his dad to believe she's going to be super competitive.

"It's been a long process, but I'm certainly getting excited now. We're here, we've left no stone unturned and she's had a great preparation. It's just a matter of whether she's good enough," he said.

"I know she's 25-1 or whatever, but the thing that keeps ringing through to me is that everyone was saying if Nature Strip came over here he would have given them a bath.

"I think back to that McEwen Stakes last spring where she ran him to a half head, when she took the corner a bit awkward and was pegging him back late.

"Taking a line through that, why can't she be really competitive?

"She galloped (last) Tuesday and it was as good as she can go. She's in great form."



Houtzen (left) pushes Nature Strip in the Group 2 McEwen Stakes at Moonee Valley lasy spring. Picture: Getty Images
Houtzen (left) pushes Nature Strip in the Group 2 McEwen Stakes at Moonee Valley lasy spring. Picture: Getty Images

Houtzen is stabled at Newmarket with Jane Chapple-Hyam, who has gone out of her way to make the arduous campaign as comfortable as possible.

"Jane has been a godsend. Any questions, anything we needed to know," Edmonds said. "When we were working the other mare (Acqume) the good mare would fret a bit and carry on. Jane was kind enough to put a stable companion next door to (Houtzen)."

The Edmonds stable has grown exponentially over the past eight years and the team place a lot of credit at Houtzen's feet for how it's gone to a new level in the past couple of years.

"You pinch yourself where she's taken you. It puts a lump in my throat thinking about it," Trent said.

"She had her first start on Christmas Eve 2016 and three weeks later won the Millions.

For her to still be at the top level as a late four-year-old, it doesn't happen often.

"She was my old man's first Group win back in the spring of 2017 and we've won seven Group races now.



Houtzen is put through her paces in England.
Houtzen is put through her paces in England.



"What she has done for us profile wise … when she won the Millions I think we had about 40 horses in work and now we are just under 100.

"We didn't pay much money for her. We bought her on spec, didn't have an owner for her and put a great crew together.

"The whole journey has been huge and being here is amazing in itself, win, lose or draw.

"If you asked us two years ago if we'd dream of having a runner at Royal Ascot, not a chance in the world.

"The way she's been going, they are going to have to be pretty sharp. We come here fully expecting to compete super and be one of the ones to beat. She will do us all proud."