American trainer Ward eyes Royal Ascot success
ASCOT, England (AP) — American trainer Wesley Ward has six horses running at Royal Ascot this week as he bids to add to his trio of previous wins at the five-day racing showcase.
Ward is looking to jockey Victor Espinoza — who rode California Chrome to victories at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness — to lead Hootenanny home in the five-furlong sprint Windsor Castle Stakes on Tuesday.
Hootenanny ran well at Pimlico, finishing third in the Rollicking Stakes for two-year-olds, following his maiden win at Keeneland.
“I took him to Pimlico and he did not like the dirt but still ran an incredible race,” Ward said in the Daily Mail.
Another strong performance for Ward could come in Friday’s Albany Stakes from Sunset Glow, who is making the trip from Indianapolis.
“She’s a really hardy filly,” Ward told Sky Sports. “I don’t think the trip will take any toll on her. In fact, she may even improve.”
Spanish Pipedream, To Be Determined, Cordero and Crown The Kitten are Ward’s four other horses competing this week.
While there will be no shortage of British royalty in attendance, it’s the Middle East royals who could make the biggest impression on the track. The Maktoum family’s Godolphin race team has been dominant for years but the ruling family of Dubai now has strong competition from its neighbors in Qatar.
Both Toronado, the favorite to win the 1-mile Queen Anne Stakes on Tuesday, and the much-admired filly Treve, who runs the Prince of Wales’s Stakes on Wednesday, are owned by Qatar’s Sheik Joaan Al Thani, whose Al Shaqab Racing has the strongest group of horses heading into Ascot.
Al Shaqab Racing stunned the racing world in March by buying a half-share in Coolmore-owned Ruler Of The World, winner of the 2013 English Derby.
Toronado trainer Richard Hannon had six winners last Friday, which top jockey Richard Hughes said was a welcome boost ahead of Ascot.
“It is nice we are flying with Ascot round the corner,” Hughes said. “Other years we have gone in with them not running well. Things couldn’t be any better.”