Wesley Ward reports Breeders’ Cup hero Four Wheel Drive to be firing on all cylinders ahead of a possible appearance at Royal Ascot.
The popular trainer is no stranger to the summer showpiece meeting, having saddled a total of 10 winners and become the first American-based trainer in history to enjoy a Royal Ascot winner when landing a famous double in 2009.
Four Wheel Drive was not part of Ward’s raiding party in 2019 and did not make his debut until the start of September, but marked himself down as top-class prospect by winning each of his three starts – completing his hat-trick in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.
Ward is delighted with how his American Pharoah colt has wintered ahead of a likely return to competitive action in early April.
He said: “Four Wheel Drive is doing fantastic. He had a bullet workout a couple of days ago – he just galloped up there and is looking really great.
“The plan is for him to run on opening day at Keeneland, which is April 2. If he is impressive then we’ll have to sit down with his connections and see what they want to do.
“All the indications are that he’ll run a corker at Keeneland and that (Royal Ascot) would be my hope, anyway.”
Ward hinted the King’s Stand could be a more likely Royal Ascot target for Four Wheel Drive than the Commonwealth Cup, with Kimari a possible contender for the latter contest.
Narrowly beaten by Raffle Prize in the Queen Mary Stakes last June, the three-year-old was not beaten far when fourth behind Four Wheel Drive at the Breeders’ Cup.
“Four Wheel Drive is in Keeneland and Kimari is down in Florida, but she’s doing good as well,” Ward as well.
“It looks like Four Wheel Drive might have some stamina limitations, whereas Kimari might be able to go a little further.”
The Washington-born handler made his name on British shores by training a string of juvenile winners at the Royal meeting, including Jealous Again, No Nay Never, Acapulco and Lady Aurelia.
While it is early days for the two-year-olds, Ward is hopeful he will be sending another strong squad across the Atlantic in June.
“Every year I seem to get later and later with the two-year-olds, but there are couple that would open your eyes,” he said.
“We always aim for the start of the season at Keeneland on April 2 and if we run a two-year-old there, it usually tells us whether he or she is up to going to Ascot or not.”