sport

Ward ready for Royal rumble

American trainer Wesley Ward has assembled a formidable team of up to six juveniles as he bids to add to his tally of three Royal Ascot winners

Ward became the first US-based handler to saddle a winner at the summer showpiece meeting in 2009, recording a landmark double with Strike The Tiger in the Windsor Castle Stakes and Jealous Again in the Queen Mary.

He struck again 12 months ago as No Nay Never ran away with the Norfolk Stakes and is confident of more big-race success next week.

He said: "Royal Ascot is just an amazing event in racing.

"Everything that goes on there is incredible and I wish more of my American counterparts would come and enjoy it with me.

"I guess some are scared as it's a long way to go and come home if you lose, but to win at Royal Ascot is wonderful."

Ward has carefully divided up his latest raiding party, with leading jockey Victor Espinoza booked for the rides.

"We're going to start off the week with a beautiful colt called Hootenanny, who will run in the Windsor Castle Stakes on the Tuesday," said the trainer.

"He won a maiden race at Keeneland with a really excellent performance and then I ran him on the dirt at Pimlico.

"I knew he'd be up against it, but I decided to let him run to see if he could handle it. He didn't want any part of it at all.

"He came out of the race in fantastic shape, though, and his breeze the other morning was outstanding.

"I think he will be running in one of the weaker two-year-old races, being a Listed race, so he can get the week off to a good start and leave everybody smiling."

Ward is particularly keen on the chances of two of the fillies he plans to send on the trans-Atlantic mission, with the team booked on a direct flight from Indianapolis in the early hours of Thursday morning.

"Spanish Pipedream won a maiden at Keeneland and will go for the Queen Mary. I think she's a very talented filly," said Ward.

"Sunset Glow won a really beautiful race at Belmont on Friday, she's a really hardy filly and she will go for the Albany Stakes.

"I don't think the trip will take any toll on her. In fact, she may even improve."

Ward is ready to let another filly, To Be Determined, take on the colts in the Norfolk Stakes.

The trainer could also be double-handed in the Chesham Stakes with the unraced Cordero and Crown The Kitten.

Ward said: "Cordero will be having his first run, but he is a highly regarded colt.

"Because he wants to go a little longer on grass, there really aren't many races he can run over in the United States in the first part of the year.

"Going 1400 metres (seven furlongs) at Ascot will be perfect for him.

"He is part-owned by Miami Heat basketball player Rashard Lewis and Coolmore also own half.

"Crown The Kitten was second to Sunset Glow at Belmont the other day and could also make the trip."

Although No Nay Never will not be at Ascot this year, Ward hopes he will be in action on British soil before the year is out.

The trainer said: "Hopefully you might be seeing him over there (in Britain) in the late summer or fall.

"We'll get over this week and map some plans for him, but he is unbelievable shape.

"We wouldn't want to present him with a task without going into the race knowing he can win.

"He's such an imposing colt, he's a horse I would love to run as a four-year-old.

"I think he could be an outstanding four-year-old sprinter."