Ward leads record American challenge at Royal Ascot

Danny Woods
June 24, 2017

In the Prince of Wales' Stakes, Highland Reel delivered Irish training great Aiden O'Brien his 300th Group One victor over flat and jumps.

It came just 19 days after his Coronation Cup triumph at Epsom and took his career prize money to nearly £6m. Ulysses, fourth in the 2016 BC Turf, led briefly but was passed by Highland Reel, who won by 1 1/4 lengths over Decorated Knight, the victor of the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup in Ireland in May.

American trainer Wesley A. Ward has entered 10 horses at Royal Ascot as part of the largest contingent of USA runners to compete at the prestigious racing festival staged just outside London.

Harry Herbert, racing manager to the winning owners Al Shaqab Racing: "I thought that physically looking at her in the pre-parade ring, she looked as well as I have ever seen her. He has pace, courage, tactical speed", said O'Brien.

"That was a real confidence booster and teed him up for a good year".

"He has passed every test that you would want a Thoroughbred to go through", the trainer added.

"Like a whole different scene, which we think is massive". He is a natural, brilliant athlete and that is what he has been at home.

"He likes horses in general, is very keen on polo, and spends a lot of time in Britain - he's enjoyed being at this sale and getting involved".

The Queen, accompanied by 96-year-old Prince Philip, looked right as rain in a bright green outfit for today's Ascot, which is one of her favourite annual events. Last July, Highland Reel won the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, a race that could be on his schedule this year on July 28.

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I was on board Acapulco when she won this race in 2015 - and obviously Wesley also took this with Lady Aurelia previous year - and you get the same vibes around this filly.

"The lads make it happen and we are so grateful to them for helping guide us along".

No longer the tearaway who burns up too much energy in the early stages of his races, jockey William Buick was able to settle Sheikh Mohammed's colt in the early stages as stablemate Toscanini set a blistering pace.

Moore said: "He's so tough, he's got a marvellous attitude, so many came at him there".

After the Jane Chapple -Hyam trained Kaspersky had outrun his odds by making steady headway from the back of the field to finish five and three-quarter lengths behind the victor Ribchester, Payne said: "That was a great thrill".

Two-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey John Velazquez took Dettori's mount on Lady Aurelia and came home a three-length victor from Profitable for American trainer Wesley Ward in the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes. "We will now look to the [July 30 G1] Prix Rothschild at Deauville".

Heartache ran by Kentucky-bred favorite Happy Like A Fool in the final furlong of the five-furlong Queen Mary Stakes (G2), winning by 2 1/2 lengths and denying trainer Wesley Ward a repeat in the race Lady Aurealia won at last year's Royal Ascot.

Having been under pressure turning in, the son of Halling failed to pick up, finishing last of the eight runners.

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