A global pandemic may keep U.S-based trainer Wesley Ward home for Royal Ascot, but he still was able to ship seven horses to the UK for the 2020 renewal which will run from Tuesday to Saturday, live on Sky Sports Racing.
Ward, despite failing to win a race at Ascot last year, is a 10-time winner at the prestigious meeting. Here is a look at his seven runners, six of whom are two-year-olds.
Watch every race of Royal Ascot 2020 live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) from Tuesday 16th June to Saturday 20th June.
SHERIFF BIANCO (Windsor Castle): Finished second in his only start to the impressive Cowan in a 4 1-2-furlong dirt race on May 22 at Churchill Downs. Sheriff Bianco broke a bit slow from post 11 in the 12-horse field while Cowan broke running from the rail.
“Breaking right on the turn there, Julio (Garcia), my main rider, had to hustle him up there and go wide and get over,” Ward said. “Anytime you get a two-year-old to do that, it’s tough to run 4 1-2 from the word go and sustain. (Cowan) boke from the 1-hole and he didn’t have as tough a go as my horse.”
Ward likes the switch to turf for this son of Speightster out of the Perfect Soul mare Summer Rules.
“Hes very nice on the grass, he worked down in Florida and he’s better on the grass than on the dirt,” Ward said. “He’s very fast, a really fluid mover over the grass.”
Champion Jockey Oisin Murphy will ride.
SUNSHINE CITY (Windsor Castle): Ward said he took a gamble by running this Creative Cause filly for a maiden $25,000 claiming price first time out, a race she won by 1 1/2 lengths from well off the pace.
“Time was getting short and we had to have a first- or second place finish to warrant going over there,” Ward said. “I took a chance because the stallion’s ice cold. Her dirt works were average and I thought we’d have a good chance to win especially with Irad (Ortiz Jr.) riding and that would ensure us a berth over there.”
Despite coming from off the pace in that win, Ward said Sunshine City “is fast. She’ll be different on the grass than she was in that race.”
Frankie Dettori will ride.
Ward said he told owner Corey Johnson he didn’t know what to expect on the dirt as he felt she was a lock on the turf.
“She broke like a shot and won anyway,” Ward said. “Six furlongs on a straightaway is a long way for a two-year-old but she’s a good-sized horse and she doesn’t look like she carries a whole lot of weight.”
GOLDEN PAL (Norfolk): Though this regally-bred colt by Uncle Mo out of the 11-time stakes winning mare Lady Shipman finished second in his debut, Ward believes “he is my best chance” to win a race at Ascot in 2020.
Ward said jockey Tyler Gaffalione slapped Golden Pal on the shoulder leaving the gate and he ran a first quarter in 21.58 seconds.
“You can’t finish if you go a 21-and-2 first quarter with a two-year-old in April,” Ward said.
Ward noted that in addition to Lady Shipman winning 11 stakes, she was narrowly beaten against males in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
“She was awesome and this guy is equally as good,” Ward said.
KIMARI (Commonwealth Cup): This daughter of Munnings got beat a head by Raffle Prize in the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at last year’s Royal Ascot. Ward credited the ride put up by Frankie Dettori on Raffle Prize as the difference. Thus, Ward has secured the services of Dettori for this race.
Since last year’s Ascot meet, Kimari has won three of four starts with her only loss coming to the Ward-trained Four Wheel Drive in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.
“She was last turning for home, wheeled out and came charging; three jumps after the wire she was in front,” Ward said.
Ward said Kimari had a very good winter in South Florida, noting that she breezed five furlongs in 58 seconds from the gate one morning at Gulfstream Park West, a track with a notorious deep surface.
“I never had a horse do that,” Ward said.
Kimari won her only start this year, the Purple Mountain Stakes, a six-furlong race run in the slop at Oaklawn Park, that did produce at least two next out winners.
“She’s come out of that race good, had some big works on the turf at Keeneland and had a nice breeze at Newmarket,” Ward said. “Kieron Fallon has been on my horses every day and he’s loving her.”
“Royal Approval was the favorite based on her workouts,” Ward said. “She’s a big, heavy blocky filly, the race is really going to do her good, tighten her right down.”
Campanelle won despite drifting out some in the stretch.
“She’s got that going on with her mentally,” Ward said. “We put a horse outside of he and she goes straight as a string.”
Ward said he is concerned with both horses coming back in three weeks.
“The only thing is we’re coming back on short rest which is a negative for me,” Ward said. “Historically, they do well with more spacing. First time back on short rest, a lot of trainers can do that, I’m not one who can.”