Tag Archive for: Wesley Ward

Golden Pal makes all for Turf Sprint victory

Golden Pal backed up his win at last year’s Breeders’ Cup with a scintillating display in the Turf Sprint at Del Mar.

A big disappointment for Wesley Ward in the Nunthorpe at York in August, the 2020 Juvenile Turf Sprint hero had this race won after 100 yards.

Immediately into a clear advantage, only Lieutenant Dan could keep tabs on him, but even then it was only at a respectable distance throughout.

Last year’s winner Glass Slippers and her Kevin Ryan-trained stablemate Emaraaty Ana were where they wanted to be coming off the bend but could not make any headway and finished just out of the places, as did Prix de l’Abbaye winner A Case Of You, who made up plenty of ground late in the race.

Ward could not hide his confidence in the build up to the Nunthorpe but that day he was beaten a long way out, leaving his trainer unable to explain what happened.

Back on home soil, he burst out of the stalls like lightning, with Irad Ortiz pushing him into an early two-length lead.

While he was able to get a breather before the final effort in the short home straight, those in behind were not allowed that luxury and just as they may have felt they were closing in, Golden Pal shot further clear.

Emaraaty Ana stuck to his task well and finished fourth, best of the Europeans under Andrea Atzeni, who said: “Five furlongs is a bit sharp for him and it was his first run round a bend. I couldn’t keep up with them, but he ran right to the line.”

Ryan said of his duo: “Emaraaty Ana’s run great, they went as we expected and he came good turning in, but they kept going in front. He’s run his heart out.

“The winner has unbelievable speed from the gate and he galloped all the way to the line.

“Glass Slippers was flat out all the way and never got a chance to fill up. She’s been great and that’s it now, she’ll be off to the paddocks.”

Ward confirmed Royal Ascot is likely to be on the winner’s agenda next year.

“I would like to keep him in training and take him to Ascot for the King’s Stand,” he said.

“He’s so sound, and lightly raced. We could boost his stallion value by showing he can do what he does here over there.

“Breeding-wise he is open to either surface (turf or dirt).

“He’s got the title – he’s the best horse (I’ve ever trained).”

A Case Of You's connections will consider a Hong Kong run
A Case Of You’s connections will consider a Hong Kong run (PA)

Adrian McGuinness was more than satisfied with A Case Of You’s performance and another international target could now be on his agenda.

He said: “He ran a massive race and going past the line would have been placed with a bit further.

“He’s been invited for Hong Kong which is something we’ll discuss over the weekend and if he travels home well it’s something we’ll think about.”

Twilight Gleaming denies Go Bears Go in Juvenile Turf Sprint

Go Bears Go ran a huge race in second as Twilight Gleaming made all for Wesley Ward in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Del Mar.

Second in the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot to Quick Suzy – who was due to run in California, but missed out when spiking a temperature at the start of the week – Twilight Gleaming shot from the stalls under Irad Ortiz Jr.

One Timer kept her company for some of the way, and the Michael O’Callaghan-trained Twilight Jet was close on their heels.

But as the winner powered on, David Loughnane’s Railway Stakes victor Go Bears Go made relentless progress under John Velazquez and was closing all the way – just finding the line coming a few strides too soon.

Hugo Palmer’s Hierarchy was another European raider to come home well, in the hands of Oisin Murphy.

Twilight Gleaming’s stablemate Kaufymaker was third, but Ward’s favourite Averly Jane could never really get on terms.

Ward – winning the race for the third year in a row – said: “I’m lucky to train so many fast horses this year. But there are some really good prospects coming through for next year. When you have the athletes on your side it makes everything so special.

“I will see how she progresses and I imagine either the King’s Stand or the Commonwealth Cup will be on her agenda next season.

“We start them early, and moving forward I knew she was fast. She won at Belmont on the grass and finished second in the Queen Mary. Then we knew we had something special.

“When she won in France (after Royal Ascot) we brought her back a gave her a good break. When she came back into training she got better and better.”

John Velazquez with connections of Go Bears Go
John Velazquez with connections of Go Bears Go (PA)

A proud Loughnane said of Go Bears Go: “He’s a superstar and has taken me to new heights. He’s a life-changing horse.

“I thought the distance might be too sharp, but that wasn’t it. He just missed a stride at the gate and Johnny thought it cost him the race. He’s never done that before, but on this stage you can’t get away with it.

“Out here the races are won in the first furlong, whereas we go quickest in the last.”

Ward unleashes triple assault in search of Juvenile Turf Sprint hat-trick

Wesley Ward possesses a formidable hand in his bid for a third successive victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Del Mar.

The Washington-born handler claimed the Grade Two prize with Four Wheel Drive at Santa Anita in 2019, while Golden Pal struck gold on his home track of Keeneland 12 months ago.

Ward appears intent on adding to his tally in the first of this year’s Breeders’ Cup races, with the unbeaten Averly Jane joined by stablemates Twilight Gleaming and Kaufymaker.

The latter pair were both seen in action at Royal Ascot earlier in the year, with Twilight Gleaming filling the runner-up spot in the Queen Mary and Kaufymaker finishing down the field in the Coventry.

Ward said: “We’re doing good and everything looks great.

“Averly Jane is going to be tough (to beat), but I like Twilight Gleaming too. She’s in there with a really good chance as well and I think Kaufymaker is coming into it in good shape too.

“All three have good chances and they all deserve to be there.”

The British challenge is made up of Dave Loughnane’s Go Bears Go, the Brian Meehan-trained Vertiginous, Hugo Palmer’s Hierarchy and Armor from Richard Hannon’s yard.

Railway Stakes winner Go Bears Go is fitted with blinkers for the first time as he bids to bounce back from a disappointing effort in the Dewhurst at Newmarket last month.

Go Bears Go winning the Railway Stakes at the Curragh
Go Bears Go winning the Railway Stakes at the Curragh (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

“He’s been a star – he’s not missed a beat,” said Loughnane.

“Things didn’t go to plan in the Dewhurst and with hindsight we probably should have gone for the Middle Park and come straight here.

“We freshened him up since the Dewhurst, everything seems to be going to plan, he’s in good form and I couldn’t be happier with him.

“He’s had a long year, but the owners were quite keen to come and there aren’t many opportunities to have a crack at a pot like this.

“He’s danced every dance so far and if it works, great, if it doesn’t it doesn’t.”

Vertiginous was last seen winning the Listed Harry Rosebery Stakes at Ayr and Meehan could not be happier with how she has settled in since arriving in America.

He said: “She’s travelled really well and she looks fantastic. She’s tip-top.

“I got on a pony myself to get alongside her the other day, doing that it means you can just change your plans when you want to. I think this course could be perfect.

“I think she’s a serious sprinter and it’s great to get Javier (Castellano) on her.

“I think she’s got something special, but whatever we see, we’ll see more from her next year.”

Hierarchy (left) was narrowly beaten by Wings Of War in the Mill Reef Stakes
Hierarchy (left) was narrowly beaten by Wings Of War in the Mill Reef Stakes (Steven Paston/PA)

Palmer expects a drop in distance to bring the best out of Mill Reef runner-up Hierarchy, saying: “He’s been doing great and has been Group-placed twice in England.

“He was just touched off a head over six furlongs in the Mill Reef and I think coming back a furlong to five should really suit him.

“We’re hopeful, but that’s all we can be at this stage.”

Irish hopes are carried by the Michael O’Callaghan-trained Twilight Jet, who successfully reverted to the minimum distance in Newmarket’s Cornwallis Stakes four weeks ago.

“It’s nice to have a horse good enough to come and compete – we feel,” said O’Callaghan.

“He’s getting better, his ratings show that. He takes his travelling so well, he’s got a great constitution as he can take so much racing and get better with it.

“With every run he’s just got stronger, developed and got bulkier – he’s thriving.

“He’s a very balanced horse and handles the dip at Newmarket like it’s not there, so that bodes well – and he’s been around the turn at Dundalk to teach him to quicken around the bend and he managed that.

“Most horses don’t run 10 times as a two-year-old, but he’s a little bit different.”

Golden Pal firing on all cylinders for Breeders’ Cup repeat

Back-to-back victories at the Breeders’ Cup is next on the agenda for Golden Pal following his return to winning ways on Saturday.

So impressive when dominating from the front in the Juvenile Turf Sprint at Keeneland last year, Wesley Ward’s stable star missed the first half of the current campaign due to an early-season setback – ruling out an intended appearance at Royal Ascot.

But having looked better than ever on his belated comeback at Saratoga in July, the son of Uncle Mo was well-fancied to break Ward’s duck in the Nunthorpe at York the following month.

The Washington-born trainer was left scratching his head after Golden Pal could finish only a lacklustre seventh on the Knavesmire, but he showed his true colours back on home soil at Keeneland over the weekend to set up a tilt at the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Del Mar.

Ward said: “It was such a great disappointment for me in York. I really was very, very confident there and for whatever reason it just didn’t materialise.

“I hold that course (York) in such high regard, I thought we had the horse and I had my rider (Frankie Dettori) on, but I just can’t figure it out. That race eludes me, but we’re going to get there one of these years!

“If I didn’t hold Golden Pal in such high regard, I would have just chalked it up as an ‘oh well, we gave it a try and we didn’t win’, but this horse is just so special.”

While blistering early speed has been Golden Pal’s trademark, Ward was pleased to see him show a different side to his game in the Grade Two Woodford Stakes.

“He showed a (different) dimension as Johnny (Velazquez) just dropped his hands when he came out of the gate and then he got passed,” the trainer added.

“Johnny never really moved and then he just kind of shook the reins to him and the horse just took off. I was really proud of him to see him to do that.

“We’re looking forward to the Breeders’ Cup. I think he’s going to love Del Mar. It’s not that he doesn’t handle a little give in the track at all, but his weapon is his speed and when you get a fast or firm course, he’s going to be a bear!”

A decision on whether Golden Pal will return for a four-year-old campaign in 2022 is unlikely to be made until after the Breeders’ Cup, but Ward admits he would love to have a crack at the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot.

He said: “It’s not my decision, of course – the boys over in Coolmore will make those decisions.

“But he would certainly enhance (his stud value) significantly if he were to have a win in Ascot in the King’s Stand.”

Breeders’ Cup target for Golden Pal after York disappointment

Wesley Ward is targeting Breeders’ Cup redemption for Golden Pal following his disappointing performance in the Nunthorpe at York.

So impressive when winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Keeneland last year, the Uncle Mo colt’s return to action was delayed by an early-season setback.

But having made a sensational reappearance at Saratoga in July, hopes were high that Golden Pal could provide his American trainer with a first Nunthorpe success, having seen both Acapulco and Lady Aurelia finish second in the Group One contest.

However, while Golden Pal displayed blistering early speed on the Knavesmire, he ultimately weakened out of contention tamely.

“He came home safe and sound and is back here training at Keeneland like he never left,” said Ward.

“Every trainer is different, but historically for me, when I bring a horse back from a long lay-off and they run a big race like he did at Saratoga, they need a little bit more time before they run again.

“I knew how important the Nunthorpe was to the Coolmore team for his stallion career, as opposed to the Flying Five (at the Curragh in September), so I factored that in and there was no real reason not to run, with the exception of the time factor.

“Every horse is different and this horse trained beautiful going into it and came out of the race beautiful, so I think it was just a question of it kind of zapped him from the inside, that first big race he had (at Saratoga).”

Wesley Ward is keeping the faith in Golden Pal
Wesley Ward is keeping the faith in Golden Pal (Julian Herbert/PA)

Golden Pal is likely to have one more run before bidding for back-to-back Breeders’ Cup wins at Del Mar in November.

Ward added: “We’ll make a decision on whether we run him in the Woodford here at Keeneland (October 9) and then aim for the Breeders’ Cup – I think that will be the plan.

“Hopefully he can run right here on his home track and he’ll bounce forward right into the Breeders’ Cup and show what he is.”

Wesley Ward ‘all smiles’ ahead of Golden Pal’s Nunthorpe date

Wesley Ward is confident Golden Pal can provide him with a first victory in the Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe at York on Friday.

The first American trainer to saddle a winner at Royal Ascot in 2009, Ward is now in double figures at the showpiece meeting – but a winner on the Knavesmire has so far eluded him.

It has not been for the want of trying, with Acapulco filling the runner-up spot in the 2015 Nunthorpe and Lady Aurelia going down by a nose to Marsha two years later, when Frankie Dettori famously celebrated as though he had won when passing the post.

In Golden Pal, winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint and scintillating on his belated return to action at Saratoga last month, the Washington-born handler appears to have unearthed another sprinting star.

Speaking after checking on conditions on Thursday morning, Ward said: “We’ve just walked the course and had a morning schooling session in the paddock. All is good.

“I looked at the French filly (Suesa) today and I’m sure she’s going to run a good race, but our guy has really travelled over very well and has done everything right to this point – I’m very, very pleased and happy.

“I’m happy with the rider (Dettori) and the horse and the race conditions here at York.

“I can’t have anything right now that I can see is going in the wrong direction.

“We’re all smiles and we’ll see what happens on Friday afternoon.”

Suesa winning at Goodwood
Suesa winning at Goodwood (John Walton/PA)

Francois Rohaut reports Suesa to be in good shape as she bids to be the first French-trained winner since John Hammond’s Nuclear Debate in 2000.

The daughter of Night Of Thunder has won five of her six starts with her only defeat coming in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

However, she bounced back with an emphatic victory in the King George Stakes at Goodwood.

“All is well. We gave her chance to recover after Goodwood. She hasn’t worked that much, she didn’t need to. She had a workout with Olivier Peslier last week,” he said.

“It is one of the best races and we have to forget Ascot. It was the ground there and probably the hill was too much for her. William Buick did the right thing with her that day when he eased her in the final furlong. Then at Goodwood we had a good result.

“She is very easy. I am not worried about the track and the ground will be probably good, good to firm. She looks nice and hopefully she can repeat her Goodwood performance. If she can run as well as she did there, we will be happy.”

Winter Power has won both her starts at York this year in convincing fashion and trainer Tim Easterby believes there is more to come from the three-year-old filly.

“She’s in great form. I’m very happy with the draw (six). She hasn’t been pushed to her limits yet. I’m very happy with her and the ground will be perfect for her,” he said.

“You don’t look anywhere else – you look at your own horse, where you’re drawn, where you’re going on the track and tell your jockey to keep his head! After that, the job’s right.

“She’s a natural runner and we won’t be doing anything fancy with her.

“She’s not a hold-up horse and doesn’t have to make the running and she hits the line strong, that’s the main thing.

“You don’t want to be kicking for home three from home or you won’t win.

“She’s absolutely bang on – she couldn’t be better.”

Dragon Symbol (right) and Campanelle fight out the finish to the Commonwealth Cup
Dragon Symbol (right) and Campanelle fight out the finish to the Commonwealth Cup (David Davies/PA)

The Archie Watson-trained Dragon Symbol deserves a day in the sun, having lost the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot in the stewards’ room before finishing second in the July Cup and in the King George at Goodwood.

“We’ve met Suesa twice, and we beat her comprehensively at Ascot before she beat us at Goodwood, where I didn’t think things went our way,” said Watson.

“Dragon Symbol is very versatile with regard to the ground and I think he goes on anything. It was heavy at Ascot and softish at Goodwood, but it was quick ground when he chased home Starman in the July Cup so it won’t be a problem if it dries out by Friday.

“I thought he travelled very well at Goodwood, down in trip, but unfortunately two longshot pacemakers came back in his lap. Oisin (Murphy) had to switch right, and then he had to switch even further right, and then he had to switch even further right to get round Battaash.

“By the time he had got out, he was on the wrong part of the track compared to the winner. I’ve no issues about taking her on again and I don’t think it’s unrealistic to think we might turn the tables.”

Michael Dods has a couple of chances in the Qipco British Champions Series contest, with last year’s runner-up Que Amoro joined by stablemate Dakota Gold, who has won five times at York.

“The Nunthorpe is a race we like to look at and we’ve been lucky in it, but I think it’s more competitive this year than it’s been for a while. You’ve got to have a go though,” said Dods.

“Que Amoro ran a hell of a race when second last year, but she’s a bit temperamental and things haven’t really worked out for her so far this year. She’s in good form and she likes York.

“The ground isn’t ideal for Dakota Gold, but so long as it’s safe I think he’ll run too. He might have grabbed a place if it had been heavy, but on good ground they’ll probably be too speedy for him.”

Moss Gill (centre) in action at York
Moss Gill (centre) in action at York (Dan Abraham/PA)

Ed Bethell has high hopes for Moss Gill, who finished third 12 months ago.

He said: “He finished within two lengths of Battaash last year, and any horse who did that when Battaash was in that sort of form did really well.

“It’s going to be a burn up of pure speed as I can see around seven who like to go forward, so I’m hoping that might play into his hands.

“Hopefully Moss Gill can sit on their tails, and if one or two of them capitulate, he’ll be there to pick up the pieces.”

Dettori makes York trip for Golden Pal spin

Frankie Dettori flew to York by helicopter on Tuesday morning to partner his Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes mount Golden Pal in a gentle exercise on the Knavesmire.

Wesley Ward’s speedster was narrowly beaten at Royal Ascot last year, before winning in style at the Breeders’ Cup.

Dettori was at pains to keep a lid on Golden Pal as his Coolmore-owned mount has a tendency to want to get things done as a matter of haste, but with the ground expected to be in his favour, the Italian could not have been happier.

“I spoke to Wesley a couple of weeks ago and he wanted me to come today to get a feel of the horse,” Dettori told Racing TV.

“We didn’t want to do too much today, just get acquainted with the straight course. He only has two speeds, slow and flat out, and I didn’t want to leave his race (behind) this morning.

“I was very pleased, he moved like a gazelle and the ground is actually beautiful, so it’s all systems go.

“I was watching the video of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last year and the speed that he has is unbelievable, I’m really looking forward to it.

“The ground is good, they’ve had 0.8 millimetres overnight which is nothing and I expect by Friday it will be good to firm and that is what we need.”

With the first two big Flat meetings of the season at Ascot and Goodwood suffering mixed fortunes with the weather, conditions look set fair in Yorkshire.

“At the start of Ascot the ground was good, but by Friday and Saturday it was a disaster and then Goodwood went the same way. Fingers crossed it looks like being a great week,” Dettori added.

“I’ve had some amazing times here, five Juddmontes, the Enable stories in the Yorkshire Oaks – it’s great. The Yorkshire crowd are big racing fans, they get behind you and create a good atmosphere.”

Frankie Dettori celebrates on Lady Aurelia only to find out he had been pipped by Marsha
Frankie Dettori celebrates on Lady Aurelia only to find out he had been pipped by Marsha (Simon Cooper/PA)

Dettori and Ward do have a score to settle in the Nunthorpe, however. In 2017 Dettori raised his arm in celebration on crossing the line on Lady Aurelia, believing he had won when he had in fact been beaten by Marsha, with commentator Richard Hoiles saying: “”Frankie punches the air – he’s sure, I’m not.”

“He was right!” said Dettori.

“It was terrible, so close and beaten by a nose – it left a sour taste in the mouth, but we’ll try again.”

Dettori will also be bidding for a third Lonsdale Cup on Stradivarius.

“It’s a shame he didn’t run at Goodwood because of the ground. I felt we didn’t get the rub of the green in the Gold Cup. I’m not saying we’d have beaten the winner but we could have finished closer,” he said.

“He knows his way around here, though, so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Suesa and Golden Pal heading for Nunthorpe showdown

French filly Suesa and American speedball Golden Pal are set for a mouthwatering clash in the Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes at York on Friday week.

Francois Rohaut’s Suesa looked every inch a top-class sprinter in the making after landing successive Group Three prize at Chantilly in the spring, but disappointed when favourite for the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

However, she put that effort behind her with a thoroughly impressive display in the King George Stakes at Goodwood last month – a performance which delighted her trainer.

Rohaut said: “It was fantastic. We didn’t expect such a nice win.

“She showed that day that she’s a top-class filly. The going was perfect for her – and the strong pace.”

Suesa is currently completing her preparations for the £400,000 Nunthorpe in Deauville before crossing the Channel.

“The filly is OK, so the plan is to come (to York). It’s very exciting and we are very happy to be in this race,” Rohaut added.

Suesa returns to the Goodwood winner's enclosure under William Buick
Suesa returns to the Goodwood winner’s enclosure under William Buick (John Walton/PA)

“She had a good canter on Tuesday in Deauville where she’s staying. Everything is OK. I am very happy with her.

“I walked her (on Wednesday afternoon) and she was jumping everywhere and was very fresh and happy to be in Deauville.

“I hope she’ll be happy to go and to be in York.”

Suesa disputes favouritism with Wesley Ward’s Golden Pal, who made a successful start to his campaign in a Grade Three at Saratoga in July.

The three-year-old is due to arrive in York on Friday, and Ward hopes he can provide him with a first Nunthorpe success, having previously saddled both Acapulco and Lady Aurelia to finish second in the prestigious contest.

Of Golden Pal, Ward – who plans to fly in for the race – said: “He’s bigger, stronger, faster. I think we’re in good shape.

“He breezed on the grass at Keeneland (on Wednesday) – a really nice workout, a final piece of fast work.

“We’re ready to go. Everything’s going to plan.

“This time we’re hoping to get lucky!”

All systems go for Golden Pal’s Nunthorpe mission

Wesley Ward reports star sprinter Golden Pal to be firing on all cylinders ahead of an intended tilt at the Nunthorpe Stakes at York.

Last season’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint winner made a spectacular return to action in the Grade Three Quick Call Stakes at Saratoga last month and Ward has now given the green light to a trip to the Knavesmire, with Frankie Dettori in line for the ride.

He said: “He had an unbelievable breeze on Saturday at Arlington Park and we’re headed for the Nunthorpe.

“Straight after his last race we really didn’t know what direction we were going. There was the option of waiting a couple more weeks for the Flying Five (at the Curragh), but he’s doing great and he’s scheduled to leave on August 13.

“I had a talk with Paul Shanahan (of Coolmore) and he had a talk with Mr Magnier, Mr Smith and Mr Tabor (owners). The Nunthorpe is kind of a stallion-maker race and carries a lot of weight at this time of year.

“He’s got a direct flight from Indianapolis to Stansted and then off we’ll go.

“Frankie is going to ride and we’re excited.”

Golden Pal’s task at York has, on paper at least, been made easier by the retirement of dual Nunthorpe hero Battaash, a horse Ward admits he is full of admiration for.

He added: “It’s always a shame for racing every time a great old warrior like that is retired.

“I have certainly been a big fan of his and have watched him for all these years. He got a big following, so any time the curtain is pulled down it’s never good for racing.

“I wouldn’t want to be taking him on when he’s breathing fire, that’s for sure!”

Ward eyes Nunthorpe or Flying Five for Golden Pal

Golden Pal will be trained for either the Nunthorpe at York or the Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh following his spectacular return to action in America.

Narrowly denied by The Lir Jet in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot last summer, Wesley Ward’s speedball went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Keeneland in November – putting a return to the Royal meeting on his prospective agenda this summer.

An early-season setback prevented Golden Pal from lining up in the King’s Stand last month – but having looked better than ever in making a successful comeback in the Grade Three Quick Call Stakes at Saratoga on Thursday, another trip to Europe is back on.

Asked whether he felt Golden Pal could be the best horse he has trained, Ward said: “He’s a couple more things to do, but I think he’s on course – I’m really excited.

“Yesterday’s race was five and a half, and the competition wasn’t at the same level as what he would face in the Nunthorpe, but if you shorten that up a 16th of a mile (half a furlong), I think he could run with anything I’ve ever trained.

“Over five furlongs, he’s a killer. He’s just so quick and agile, and mentally he’s really coming around, more so this year than last year.

“He’s always been able to run, but now the rider can contain him – and when he asks for that little burst, very few horses I’ve had have been able to do that.”

Ward would love to settle a score in the Nunthorpe on August 20, having trained both Acapulco and Lady Aurelia to finish second in the Group One feature on the Knavesmire.

But the Washington-born trainer may yet wait for the Flying Five if he feels Golden Pal needs an extra couple of weeks to recover from his exertions.

He told the PA news agency: “The Nunthorpe has eluded me, but hopefully we’ll get it done this year!

“We’ve been having massive rainstorms over here, so there was quite a bit of give in the ground yesterday. He handled the ground well at Ascot last year as well, so he’s got no issues with the ground being a little soft.

“The only issue would be, while he pulled up really good and sound (after Thursday’s race), we’ll see how his energy levels are in his works here in the next couple of weeks – and whether it warrants giving him an extra bit of time for the Flying Five.

“One of those two races is what he’ll be in.”

Another Ward-trained star being prepared for a repeat trans-Atlantic mission is dual Royal Ascot heroine Campanelle.

Campanelle (left) and Dragon Symbol fight out the finish to the Commonwealth Cup
Campanelle (left) and Dragon Symbol fight out the finish to the Commonwealth Cup (David Davies/PA)

Winner of the Commonwealth Cup in the stewards’ room last month, the Kodiac filly’s next appearance is likely to be in France.

“We’re doing really well with her,” he said.

“She had a breeze on the dirt for the first time since I’ve had her last week, and we’re asking the powers that be for a breeze on the grass at Keeneland this week.

“She’s on target for the Maurice de Gheest at Deauville (August 8) and leaves here on July 31.

“Like Golden Pal, she has no issues with softer ground. In fact, it might be better if it rains a little.”

Haggas has grounds for concern ahead of Mohaafeth’s Ascot assignment

Late Derby absentee Mohaafeth gets the chance to strut his stuff in the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot on Thursday.

William Haggas agonised over whether to run his exciting colt in the Classic following heavy rain the day before.

He decided to keep his powder dry and aim for Ascot instead – yet with thunder storms forecast, the Newmarket handler fears his chance may be compromised again.

However, there appears no question of him not running following a promise to Sheikha Hissa, daughter of the late Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, who founded the Shadwell Estate Company.

“He obviously doesn’t want much rain but he’ll run, I promised Sheikha Hissa he’d run at Ascot regardless,” said Haggas.

“It’s just the way it is, it’s typical.

“Everything has been good with him, he’s in great form and he really is a lovely horse, we just won’t see him at his best on soft ground – but that’s the way it is.

“He’ll still run a good race, he’s very well.”

Charlie Appleby’s One Ruler did run in the Derby won by his stablemate Adayar and finished sixth, just as he had in the 2000 Guineas. Appleby also runs Secret Protector.

Aidan O’Brien is represented by Roman Empire, who was fourth in the Dante when ridden by Hollie Doyle, and Matchless.

The weather apart, it promises to be a good day for Haggas, with Second Wind in the Norfolk Stakes and Aldaary in the Buckingham Palace carrying high hopes.

Unbeaten in two starts to date, with his latest run at Salisbury boosted by the runner-up since, Second Wind would like the rain to come, as he prepares to go up against the Wesley Ward-trained pair of Lucci and Nakatomi.

Haggas said: “I think he’ll enjoy some dig in the ground and that might not help Wesley’s horses, so I was quite keen to have a go. There was some cut in the ground when he won at Salisbury, I think he enjoys that.”

Aldaary was last seen finishing third at Goodwood, and Haggas has listened to jockey Jim Crowley in going for the Buckingham Palace.

The Newmarket handler said: “He’s an interesting one. He’s a nice horse. He was too far back last time out behind Rhoscolyn.

“It was very much Jim Crowley’s idea to come for this, I hadn’t given it a minute’s thought. I didn’t want to go for the Britannia because he’d have had nearly top-weight. Jim said had I considered the Buckingham Palace, I hadn’t, but I did and I thought it was perfect.”

Returning to the Norfolk, the aforementioned Ward seems to favour the John Velazquez-ridden Lucci over his stablemate, although the latter recorded a strong speed figure when beating stablemate Happy Soul on his one run to date.

The merit of that effort was seen subsequently when Happy Soul absolutely bolted up at Belmont Park. Qatar Racing bought into Nakatomi after his win, and as a result Oisin Murphy takes the ride.

Ward said: “At home, we have been working Lucci and Nakatomi together. Nakatomi was coming out on top, but then they had a workout in Newmarket on the Limekilns and Lucci turned the tables. He just bounced straight through to the front and would not give up the lead.”

There are plenty of others to watch, too, in what looks a strong renewal of the Norfolk, among them O’Brien’s once-raced Cadamosto and the Clive Cox-trained Instinctive Move, the mount of Derby-winning rider Adam Kirby.

George Scott is another trainer looking forward to chances on day three, chief among them George Peabody in the Britannia.

Progressive with two wins in novice company this year, the Holy Roman Emperor gelding is making his handicap bow – in what has been a long-range plan.

George Peabody has been aimed at the Britannia Handicap for some time
George Peabody has been aimed at the Britannia Handicap for some time (Mike Egerton/PA)

Scott said: “We’ve been aiming at this race a very long time. He was impressive at Doncaster and then followed up under a penalty at Thirsk. He’s a cool horse to train, very relaxed and straightforward.

“Obviously we need an enormous amount of luck, but I couldn’t be more pleased with him.”

Stablemate Too Friendly runs in the same colours of Bill and Tim Gredley, as he goes in the King Edward V Stakes.

The Camelot colt won well at Doncaster in March, leading to a crack at the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom, finishing sixth to Wirko.

Scott said: “I’ve been really pleased with his preparation. In hindsight I think Epsom came a little quick for him after winning at Doncaster, so we deliberately put him away and waited for Ascot.

“He’s wearing first-time cheekpieces and they seemed to have had an effect at home.”

Among the King George opposition is the O’Brien-trained Sir Lamorak, a winner at Dundalk in March and impressive after that in a Leopardstown handicap.

A minor setback ruled Noon Star out of the Oaks
A minor setback ruled Noon Star out of the Oaks (Tim Goode/PA)

Ryan Moore rides and told Betfair: “He doesn’t want much rain, but I think he has a big run in him if the ground remains decent. He may be 15lb higher than when winning for me at Leopardstown back in April, but you had to be very impressed by what he did that day, and I think he is a good colt. And hopefully one better than his current mark of 100.”

An intriguing renewal of the Ribblesdale Stakes has attracted Sir Michael Stoute’s impeccably-bred Noon Star – a late defector from the Oaks but whose three-and-three-quarter-length second to Snowfall in the Musidora does not now have the slightly disappointing look to it that it possibly had at the time.

She gets has the opportunity to show what might have been at Epsom as she clashes with O’Brien’s Oaks third Divinely, while Mark Johnston’s Dubai Fountain also runs after being well-beaten in the Classic, for which she attracted a raft of support in the market beforehand.

Campanelle on course for Royal Ascot return in Commonwealth Cup

Wesley Ward’s Campanelle is among 24 colts and fillies left in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

Winner of the Queen Mary last year, Campanelle went on to take the Prix Morny in France too and then finish fourth at the Breeders’ Cup over a mile.

Clive Cox has a strong hand on Friday – with the improving Diligent Harry and Middle Park winner Supremacy, although the latter needs to put a dismal first run of the season behind him.

There is a strong challenger from France in the shape of Suesa, who has been impressive in remaining unbeaten for Francois Rohaut in four outings to date.

Archie Watson’s Dragon Symbol, narrowly beaten at Haydock last time out, is another well fancied – while Aidan O’Brien could drop Battleground in trip after he disappointed in the 2000 Guineas behind Poetic Flare.

Method, The Lir Jet, Dandalla, Happy Romance, Miss Amulet and Sacred are others who are likely to have plenty of supporters in the six-furlong Group One for three-year-olds.

O’Brien has supplemented The Mediterranean among 15 for the King Edward VII Stakes – from which, as expected, Sir Michael Stoute’s Bay Bridge is an absentee.

The Ballydoyle handler could also run Baton Rouge, Hector De Maris, Kyprios, Matchless, Sir Lamorak and Wordsworth.

William Haggas’ Alenquer will no doubt attract many backers, given he was last seen beating Derby winner Adayar at Sandown.

Sir Mark Todd will be saddling his first Royal Ascot runner in the shape of Tasman Bay, while Mark Johnston’s Gear Up could make a quick reappearance after the Derby.

There are 24 fillies in the Albany Stakes – with a pair from George Boughey’s stable to the fore, in Beautiful Sunshine and Cachet.

Simon and Ed Crisford’s Flotus, Ralph Becket’s Hello You and Ward’s Kaufymaker – who is thought more likely to run in the Coventry Stakes – and O’Brien’s Prettiest all made a big impression when winning on their debuts.

A total of 39 have been entered for the Sandringham Stakes, in which Roger Charlton’s Lucid Dreamer could look to bounce back from a below-par run in the Fred Darling.

The Duke of Edinburgh Stakes has attracted 43 entries – including Favorite Moon, who last ran in Australia for Haggas. Last year’s winner Scarlet Dragon could be back again.

Kaufymaker to set tone for Wesley Ward’s Ascot team

Wesley Ward is delighted to be back in Britain as he saddles another strong team of runners for Royal Ascot next week.

It is 12 years since the then little-known American became the first US-based trainer to land a winner at the showpiece meeting, with Strike The Tiger claiming a 33-1 victory in the Windsor Castle. The following day, he sent out Jealous Again to win the Queen Mary Stakes.

The outbreak of coronavirus meant Ward was forced to watch on from his base in Kentucky as Campanelle provided him with a fourth Queen Mary win and an 11th Royal Ascot triumph overall under Frankie Dettori last summer.

But the relaxation of restrictions means the popular handler will be on course this time – and with fast ground forecast, confidence is high that he can add to his tally.

“The sun is shining, and the horses are looking fantastic, so we’re golden at the moment,” said Ward.

A team of nine horses has made the trans-Atlantic trip, including seven two-year-olds.

The first juvenile in action will be Kaufymaker, who will bid to become Ward’s first winner of the Coventry Stakes on Tuesday.

Ward added: “We’re going to head to the Coventry with the filly (Kaufymaker), and she will probably tell the tale.

“All the two-year-olds are training great, but if you were to line them all up, she would be the one that would be in front – that’s going six furlongs, I’m not sure about five.

“I think Kaufymaker will be a good measure of how my horses are going to run. If she wins then we’ll be tough (to beat) – and if she gets beaten then we may be outclassed!”

Ward confirmed running and riding plans for the rest of his squad, with American ace Johnny Velazquez travelling to partner the majority.

Campanelle winning the Queen Mary Stakes under Frankie Dettori
Campanelle winning the Queen Mary Stakes under Frankie Dettori (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Ward said: “We’ve got Kaufymaker and Maven in the King’s Stand on Tuesday; then on Wednesday we’ve got Twilight Gleaming in the Queen Mary, and both Ruthin and Napa Spirit in the Windsor Castle.

“On Thursday, in the Norfolk we’ve got Lucci and Nakatomi, and on Friday we’ve got Campanelle in the Commonwealth Cup and Golden Bell in the Albany – that’s the line-up.

“Johnny is riding all of them, except for Napa Spirit and Campanelle, who will be ridden by Frankie (Dettori), and Nakatomi will be ridden by Oisin Murphy.

“Johnny arrives today. He’s doing fantastic and is really looking forward to coming over again.”

Campanelle ‘in fantastic order’ with sights firmly set on Commonwealth Cup

Wesley Ward reports star filly Campanelle to be in “fantastic order” ahead of her return to Royal Ascot next month.

The daughter of Kodiac provided the popular American trainer with his fourth victory in the Queen Mary Stakes at the showpiece meeting last June before going on to beat the boys in the Prix Morny at Deauville.

She could only finish fourth on her final appearance as a juvenile trying a mile for the first time at the Breeders’ Cup, but is reported to be firing on all cylinders ahead of an intended outing in the Commonwealth Cup on June 18.

Ward said: “She had a beautiful breeze at Churchill Downs on the grass on Sunday and came out of it in fantastic order.

“We’re going to keep working each and every Sunday all the way up until we get on the plane.”

The Washington-born handler had originally planned to give Campanelle a prep outing, but having missed an engagement in April, he has decided to run her at the Royal meeting first time out.

Campanelle was too good for her rivals at Ascot last year
Campanelle was too good for her rivals at Ascot last year (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

He added: “We’re going to train her right in there. She’s training great and has fired well off a lay-off in the past.

“When she arrives (in Britain) she’ll go to the Rowley Mile in Newmarket, or wherever they want us to go, and she should be right on target for the Commonwealth Cup.”

Ward is assembling another strong team of juveniles for the Royal meeting, with several having booked their ticket across the Atlantic with runaway victories in recent weeks.

The filly pencilled in to follow in Campanelle’s hoofprints in the Queen Mary is Ruthin, who made a hugely impressive start to her career when blitzing her rivals at Keeneland.

Discussing some of his two-year-old team, Ward said: “Ruthin is headed for the Queen Mary and we had a nice winner on Sunday at Belmont called Lucci. He’s a really nice colt and we’re going to go for the Norfolk with him.

“We’ve got Golden Bell for the Albany, and then we had a nice winner over the weekend called Twilight Gleaming and she will probably go for the Windsor Castle.”

Two Ward-trained stars who are not bound for Berkshire are Like A King and Golden Pal.

The St James’s Palace Stakes was mooted as a possible target for Like A King prior to his creditable effort in the Kentucky Derby at the start of the month, while top-class sprinter Golden Pal is being readied for the Nunthorpe at York in August following an early-season setback.

Golden Pal (right) is heading to York
Golden Pal (right) is heading to York (Julian Finney/PA)

“Like A King was my first Kentucky Derby starter. I always wanted to come with a horse with a chance and I thought he had a chance, just because he comes from way back with a big run,” said Ward.

“He gave us a little thrill there turning for home when he made up a bunch of ground. He got within five lengths of the lead and the commentator said ‘and here comes Like The King’, which gave us all a little thrill, and then down the lane he just flattened out a bit.

“I think he’d be good on the grass in a race like the St James’s Palace, but I think we’re going to run him in a stakes race at Churchill and then go to the Belmont Derby.

“Golden Pal is here at Keeneland and will be running around Ascot time here at home – maybe a week or two after Ascot.

“After that, we’re going to centre in on the Nunthorpe.”

Campanelle and Aunt Pearl headline American aces in line for Royal Ascot

Camapanelle and Aunt Pearl head the star quality on course to travel to Royal Ascot this year from America.

Brad Cox’s unbeaten Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Aunt Pearl is in the reckoning for the Coronation Stakes on June 18 – one of eight Group Ones throughout the famous five-day meeting, at which entries for 12 races have been published.

Aunt Pearl’s credentials are due to be tested on her comeback run in the Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs later this week.

She is one of eight US-trained Ascot entries, also including Campanelle – winner of last year’s Queen Mary Stakes and fourth to Aunt Pearl at Keeneland, for Wesley Ward – and Brendan Walsh’s top sprinter Extravagant Kid, who could bid to pull off the King’s Stand and Diamond Jubilee Group One double.

Liz Crow, who represents Aunt Pearl’s owners, reports the filly in great form as she bids to extend her record on her three-year-old debut.

“We first want to see how Aunt Pearl performs on Friday in the Edgewood,” she said.

“She is doing great at the moment. She has been training really well and we are excited to see her back out.

“Hopefully, she comes back and wins well – and then we will be able to move forward with the plan of running at Royal Ascot.”

Campanelle provided Ward with his 11th Royal Ascot success last year, before beating the boys in the Prix Morny at Deauville two months later.

She is one of Ward’s two entries in the Commonwealth Cup, alongside Illegal Smile, while he also has Diamond Jubilee and King’s Stand aspirations with Bound For Nowhere and Maven respectively.

Frankie Dettori celebrates with Campanelle
Frankie Dettori celebrates with Campanelle (Edward Whitaker/PA)

He said: “Campanelle did us proud last year, and the owners are really excited about bringing her back for the Commonwealth Cup.

“I have had my eye on this for some time, because I think the stiff six furlongs on the straight course will suit her really well.

“We are looking to give her a prep race about a month out from Ascot, although where that will be I am not sure yet.

“Our other filly in the Commonwealth Cup, Illegal Smile, will be out in a five-furlong race on the grass at Churchill Downs. How she gets on there will determine whether she travels.”

Bound For Nowhere is a veteran of three Royal Ascot missions already, but it is not yet certain he will return.

Ward added: “Bound For Nowhere made a really exciting comeback at Keeneland recently.

“With him, we are jostling over bringing him to Ascot again or going for a Grade One sprint on Belmont Stakes day. It will be a while before we make a decision on that.”

Wesley Ward is always to be feared at Royal Ascot
Wesley Ward is always to be feared at Royal Ascot (Steve Parsons/PA)

Ward also has high hopes for Maven, and singled out recent Keeneland winner Ruthin as a major contender to add to the yard’s four previous Queen Mary victories

“The filly by Ribchester, Ruthin, produced an eye-opening performance at Keeneland last week,” he said.

“We expected her to run well going into the race. Not all horses produce in the afternoon what they show you in the morning, but she did, and it was great to see.

“She is on a direct course for the Queen Mary Stakes.”

Extravagant Kid has taken his form to a new level at the age of eight, having won the Al Quoz Sprint under Ryan Moore at the Dubai World Cup on his most recent start.

Walsh said: “Everything has been good with Extravagant Kid, and Royal Ascot is the target if all goes well between now and then.

“It was a proper performance from the horse in Dubai.

“Extravagant Kid has entries in the King’s Stand and Diamond Jubilee. Both races have their appeal, and it made sense to enter for both because he is quite versatile.

“We will see how each race is shaping and make our minds up nearer the time. I would not write off him running in both just yet, although I would say it is unlikely.”

A stellar home and European challenge will of course await the trans-Atlantic travellers.

John Gosden’s Lord North holds an entry to defend his Prince of Wales’s Stakes crown – with Aidan O’Brien’s dual Classic-winning filly Love and William Haggas’ globetrotter Addeybb, runner-up last year, also in the mix.

O’Brien’s Battleground won the Chesham Stakes in 2020, and may be back in the St James’s Palace Stakes this time.