TOP American trainer Wesley Ward is a familiar face at Royal Ascot.
The punters pal has saddled 10 winners at the Royal meeting since 2009, and this year he is set to bring over his ‘strongest group as a whole’.
With less than two weeks until the start of the five-day festival, we take a look at the 51-year-old’s transatlantic squad with attached video form so you can decide for yourself which ones you like best!
Bound For Nowhere
The only older horse in Ward’s travelling party who is on his third trip to Ascot. The five-year-old was fourth in the 2017 Commonwealth Cup and a close third behind Merchant Navy in last year’s Diamond Jubilee.
He will have another crack at the latter race and, given his good form at the meeting, at 16-1 he rates a solid each-way contender.
Target: Diamond Jubilee Stakes 16-1
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This two-year-old filly is dirt-bred through and through and she was impressive when winning by five and a half lengths on debut over 4.5f at Keeneland.
She is in much deeper and switched to turf, which won’t necessarily suit, but she looks rapid. If she runs in the Albany Stakes (6f), there would be a stamina doubt.
Target: Albany Stakes, Queen Mary Stakes 8-1
Another easy debut winner over 4.5f at Keeneland – but Chili Petin is bred to go on turf. Her dam was a stakes performer on grass, while her dad City Zip ran to a high level on the green stuff.
Ward told attheraces.com: “Chili Petin was a really nice winner and bred for the grass. I will be looking to put her in the Windsor Castle or maybe against the colts in the Norfolk.”
Target: Windsor Castle Stakes, Norfolk Stakes 10-1
Made a winning introduction on turf at Belmont in early May, winning by two and three quarter lengths.
Remains to be seen how strong that form is, but she is clearly at home on grass. She wasn’t explosive here and doesn’t look to be one of Ward’s stronger candidates.
Target: Windsor Castle Stakes
The first two-year-old winner for 2014 Breeders’ Cup Mile champion Karakontie, she made a winning debut at Belmont on 25 May.
Won in a quicker time than Foolish Humor over C&D, albeit on officially slightly quicker ground. The fact she is being considered for the Norfolk against the colts could be a tip in itself.
Target: Queen Mary Stakes 12-1, Norfolk Stakes 14-1
Wide-margin winner on her debut at Keeneland, registering a fast time in the process.
She moves like a dirt horse so it will be interesting to see how she goes when working on turf before the Royal meeting starts. She is exciting nonetheless.
Target: Queen Mary Stakes 10-1
Closely related to Ward’s brilliant, dual-Ascot winner Lady Aurelia. She wowed onlookers with an impressive debut win.
She flopped when odds-on at Ascot in April, but Ward feels she had excuses that day and is anticipating a big run in the Queen Mary.
He said: “She travelled from Kentucky down to Alabama, then flew in, had two days on the grounds until her race. It was all new for a young two-year-old.
“She has had a good time to recover from her defeat and she can hopefully step it up.”
Target: Queen Mary Stakes 8-1
A son of Triple Crown hero American Pharoah, he won the first two-year-old race of the year in New York at Aqueduct back in April.
He achieved a good speed figure in that contest and did it the hard way from the front. Will tackle the Norfolk, a race Ward won with Shang Shang Shang last year.
Target: Norfolk Stakes 7-1
Rumoured to be one of Ward’s strongest hopes. This well-bred filly (half-sister to high-class two-year-old Soldat) bolted up on debut at Keeneland.
She is being aimed at the Albany Stakes over 6f and, as with a lot of these explosive types, the extra furlong is a worry. But she is clearly held in high regard.
Ward told attheraces.com: “I really, really like her. She won with speed to spare here at Keeneland.”
Target: Albany Stakes