An ambitious raid is on the cards from American trainer Joan Scott, who brings ANCIL over for The King’s Stand Stakes (Tuesday 3.45), fifth leg of the Global Sprint Challenge.
Five wins from 15 starts and over £150,000 worth of prize money looks impressive, but he has struggled when upped into Group company and looks well held on current form. However he does handle the turf, and will be suited by quick ground, so if the course remains dry, Ancil may have an advantage over his European rivals who have been racing on softer ground so far this season. He may just find enough improvement to run into a place under top English jockey James Doyle, who has been booked to take the ride..
Trainer Kenny McPeek has already sent over a couple of Royal Ascot runners in the past, including Noble’s Promise who came 5th in the 2010 St James’s Palace Stakes. This year he brings over ROSALIND, a 3-y-o filly, who has an entry in The Coronation Stakes (4.25 Friday).
She has only run once on the turf and that was on her debut, but she did win, and has since been competing exclusively in Group company in the US. Running consistently at the highest level, including when 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies back in the November; she finally won a Group 1 after four attempts, when dead-heating at Keeneland in April.
Subsequently a well beaten 4th in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs in May, she comes to Royal Ascot as a consistent performer, albeit one who doesn’t win often enough. However her sole experience on turf may help and if things fall right for her, she has a genuine chance of sneaking some prize money.
McPeek is also looking to target the 2-y-o races and may have something going for The Chesham Stakes (2.30 Saturday).
Familiar Royal Ascot raider Wesley Ward again brings a select team of two year olds to this year’s meeting. His hopefuls are SPANISH PIPEDREAM, HOOTENANNY, SUNSET GLOW, TO BE DETERMINED, CORDERO and CROWN THE KITTEN.
Last year, Ward trained No Nay Never to victory in the Norfolk Stakes and subsequent glory in the Prix Morny at Deauville in France, proving that he knows how to train a winner on the turf in Europe.
Ward, who became the first United States trainer to saddle a winner at Royal Ascot when two of his juveniles won races there in 2009. In addition to No Nay Never last year, he also won the Queen Mary Stakes and Windsor Castle Stakes in 2009 and will be looking to pick the right races for his horses to try and add to those famous victories.
“We’re going to start off the week with a beautiful colt called Hootenanny, who will run in The Windsor Castle Stakes (5.35 Tuesday). He won a maiden race at Keeneland with a really excellent performance and then I ran him on the dirt at Pimlico,” said the trainer.
“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, saying: “Spanish Pipedream won a maiden at Keeneland and will go for The Queen Mary (3.05 Wednesday). I think she’s a very talented filly. 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 (2.30 Friday). I don’t think the trip will take any toll on her. In fact, she may even improve.”
The final filly To Be Determined is likely to take on the colts in The Norfolk Stakes (2.30 Thursday), while the unraced Cordero is likely to run in The Chesham Stakes (2.30 Saturday), as Ward feels that “Going 1400 metres at Ascot will be perfect for him,” Ward said. “He is part-owned by Miami Heat basketball player Rashard Lewis and Coolmore also own half.” Crown The Kitten is expected to line up in the same race and was a promising second behind stablemate Sunset Glow on debut.
Leading jockey Victor Espinoza takes five of the six rides on all the Wesley Ward runners, with either Ryan Moore or Kieron Fallon lined up to take the ride on whichever Espinoza doesn’t ride in The Chesham.