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Wesley Ward Royal Ascot winners: American trainer’s 12 victories

| 15.06.2023

Wesley Ward blazed a trail by becoming the first American trainer to saddle a winner at Royal Ascot back in 2009 and has since become a regular raider.

Precocious juveniles and speedy sprinters are the Keeneland-based handler’s forte and have brought him great success in Berkshire.

Ward admits spending half an hour with the late Queen gave him as much pleasure as No Nay Never’s victory in the 2013 Norfolk Stakes and he was left amazed by her boundless knowledge of the sport.

He revealed: “What was great about it was she did most of the chatting! When you first get up there you are nervous and she just starts firing questions at you and it puts you so at ease.

“She was just picking my brain and asking all these questions about how I train, how I came here and asking about all the success I had.

“It was unbelievable how much knowledge she had, not just of racing but myself – I couldn’t believe the Queen of England even knew who a trainer like myself from a different country like America was and what I had accomplished.

“You would think she would just be coming to the races and focused on English racing and everything else she had going on in her life. She was just a wonderful person.”

Here we list all 12 of the Wesley Ward Royal Ascot winners so far:

Strike The Tiger 2009

Arrived at Royal Ascot with a smooth success at Churchill Downs on his CV but was still sent off as a 33/1 outsider in the 22-runner Windsor Castle Stakes. What was considered a novelty entry soon made people sit up and take notice, though, as Strike The Tiger made every post a winning one, holding on to beat fellow longshot Fratellino by a neck.

Jealous Again 2009

This filly quickly proved that opening victory was no flash in the pan by leading her rivals a merry dance in the Queen Mary Stakes. With a Keeneland success and a Churchill Downs second to stablemate Aegean under her belt, Jealous Again quickened up impressively from the front to score by five lengths from subsequent Cherry Hinton winner Misheer. Was then bought by Godolphin and has produced five winners at stud, including Group-class performers Sceptical and Remorse.

No Nay Never 2013

Ward took a while to follow up that initial double success but bounced back with a bang via this Norfolk Stakes star. No Nay Never was the 4/1 second-favourite behind Aidan O’Brien’s Coach House but overcame an awkward start to be prominent throughout and then ran on strongly enough to keep the market leader at bay. Landed the Group One Prix Morny at Deauville two months later and has gone on to become one of the most successful stallions on the planet since standing at Coolmore.

Hootenanny 2014

The Coolmore team were so taken by No Nay Never that they began sending juveniles to Ward and that move reaped an early reward. Hootenanny was made 7/2 favourite for the Windsor Castle Stakes and always looked to be travelling well in the front rank before drawing three and a half lengths clear for a convincing victory. Went on to Grade One glory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita.

Undrafted 2015

Owned by NFL star Wes Welker of the New England Patriots, this gelding was fourth in the 2014 July Cup at Newmarket as a 25/1 shot and bookmakers again underestimated him in the following season’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Unlike most of the Wesley Ward Royal Ascot winners, Undrafted was held up for a late challenge and burst through to beat 7/2 favourite Brazen Beau by half a length at a generous 14/1.

Acapulco 2015

Another triumph for high-profile owners John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, this daughter of Scat Daddy was a monster of a juvenile and made short work of her Queen Mary opponents. After tracking the leader early on, Acapulco cruised to the front two furlongs out under Ryan Moore and never looked in danger once he pressed the button. Returned to the UK two months later to finish second of 19 in the open-aged Nunthorpe at York.

Lady Aurelia 2016

A wide-margin debut strike at Keeneland had alerted punters to Ward’s latest Scat Daddy offspring and she was a heavily-backed 2/1 favourite for the Queen Mary. Her backers did not have a moment’s worry as Lady Aurelia led from the outset and sprinted clear at the furlong pole to score by seven lengths under Frankie Dettori. Another pillar-to-post triumph followed in the Prix Morny when 2/7.

Lady Aurelia 2017

It was nine seasons since a three-year-old had won the King’s Stand Stakes but Ward wasn’t about to let that stat stop him. John Velazquez was on board this time as Lady Aurelia tracked the leaders before being sent on between the final two furlongs and then left Profitable and Marsha trailing in her wake with a commanding three-length victory. Marsha gained her revenge when prevailing by a nose in the Nunthorpe.

Con Te Partiro 2017

Another from the Scat Daddy production line and a rare handicap success for Ward in the Sandringham over a mile. Con Te Partiro was given a patient ride by head waiter Jamie Spencer but made light of some trouble in running to reel in Rain Goddess and score by just over a length at the rewarding odds of 20/1. Went on to become a dual Group One winner in Australia for Gai Waterhouse.

Shang Shang Shang 2018

Made all to see off stablemate Moonlight Romance on her debut at Keeneland and Joel Rosario employed similar tactics to take top honours in the Norfolk Stakes. Pocket Dynamo looked to challenge throughout the final furlong, but Shang Shang Shang showed plenty of spirit to hold on by a nose, giving her followers a nice 5/1 pay-out.

Campanelle 2020

This daughter of Kodiac was an easy scorer at Gulfstream Park a month before her brave success in the Queen Mary Stakes. Sacred looked as though she would be a tough nut to crack when coasting to the front between the final two furlongs, but Campanelle dug deep to prevail by three quarters of a length, with the third well beaten. A Group One triumph in the Prix Morny followed next up.

Campanelle 2021

Ward sent his charge back across the Atlantic for the Commonwealth Cup over six furlongs and Campanelle duly claimed a second elite-level prize, but only thanks to a stewards’ inquiry. Dragon Symbol pulled alongside at the furlong pole and finished a head in front at the winning post, but he was deemed to have impeded the American raider during a barging match in the closing stages. Campanelle tried to complete a hat-trick in the 2022 Platinum Jubilee Stakes but had to settle for a close third of 24 behind Naval Crown.

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Tony Kelshaw