Who is Ward's top Royal Ascot winner?
In 2009, Wesley Ward became the first American trainer to win a race at Royal Ascot when his longshot gelding Strike the Tiger won the Windsor Castle S. Since then, he has become synonymous with American raiders. Leading into the 2021 meeting he now has 11 winners, and it has become a ritual to watch who Wesley Ward points there.
But, who is Wesley Ward's best Royal Ascot winner ever?
Campanelle: Campanelle is Wesley Ward's most recent Royal Ascot star. She started with a maiden win in America, though at Gulfstream and not Keeneland, due to COVID-19 schedule changes, before crossing to Europe for a campaign familiar to several Ward juvenile stars. In the Queen Mary (G2), she sat just off the pace, a different running style than so many Ward juveniles. She got going near two furlongs out, drove to the lead past the furlong mark, and stayed on to win by three quarters of a length. Campanelle then made her way to France, where she was keen to a narrow lead and cleared to the wire to capture Ward's third Prix Morny (G1). Though she did not see out the mile in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), she will seek to join Lady Aurelia as a two-time winner there in 2021, as she has been pointed toward the six-furlong Commonwealth Cup (G1).
Con Te Partiro: The truly international Con Te Partiro began her career with Wesley Ward. She was a Keeneland maiden winner and she upset the Bolton Landing S. at Saratoga at age two, but did not get her shot at Royal Ascot until age three. Ignored at 20-1 in the Listed Sandringham Handicap in 2017, she was held up at the back of a field of 24 through much of the race. Past two furlongs out she still had a lot of traffic to slice through and a lot of work to do, but she not only battled through but cleared to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Though her best American finish after that was a third-place run in the Arlington Matron (G3) at age four, she found a second wind in Australia with Gai Waterhouse. She was a Group 3 winner down under at five, and a two-time Group 1 winner at 6 in the Tad Kennedy and the Legacy.
Hootenanny: Hootenanny was Wesley Ward's first, and so far only, to parlay a Royal Ascot win into Breeders' Cup glory. He went off at 4.9-1 on debut at Keeneland, a bomber in Wesley Ward terms, winning decisively. Though he was well beaten Preakness week in a dirt stakes at Pimlico, he was still well prepared to face 23 others in the Windsor Castle, where he took command early and won by 3 1/2 lengths. He couldn't hold off The Wow Signal in the Prix Morny, but in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) he stretched out to a mile beautifully. He stalked pacesetter Luck of the Kitten and reeled him in to win by three-quarters of a length. Hootenanny would win twice more after his two-year-old year, both times in allowance company, and finish second in the King Edward (G2) at Woodbine at age five. His first foals turned two this year.
No Nay Never: He romped on debut over eventual Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3) winner Solitary Ranger, then impressed in the Norfolk (G2). He shot to the front, lost the lead midrace, but resurged to put the field away. He never surrendered the front two months later in the Prix Morny. Though that was the last he raced at age two, he proved a top turf sprinter the next year as well. Though beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Spot in the 2014 Swale (G3), his only try on dirt, he beat older horses in the Woodford (G3) later in the year, holding off the tough-as-nails Mongol Bull. Then, he ran second in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1), behind only Bobby's Kitten — and a nose ahead of stablemate Undrafted, who would win the Diamond Jubilee (G1) at Royal Ascot the next year! Now No Nay Never is a top-class stallion whose foals include champion Ten Sovereigns and Group 1 winner Alcohol Free.
Lady Aurelia: This fast filly is Wesley Ward's only two-time Royal Ascot winner so far. A sensation after an easy 7 1/2-length maiden win at Keeneland, which set a new track record, she was even more impressive in the 2016 Queen Mary. Still well clear on the lead before being asked, she blasted clear when Frankie Dettori shook her up, posting one of the most convincing wins in Royal Ascot history. She doubled up in the Prix Morny as well, though was caught and finished third next out in the Cheveley Park (G1). At three, she found older horses no problem in the Giant's Causeway at Keeneland. That race proved a perfect prep for the 2017 King's Stand (G1). She led her side but not overall that time, but responded with the same devastating kick to take command in the final furlong. Though she would not win again in four further starts, her two Royal Ascot victories both dazzled.
Who is Wesley Ward's best Royal Ascot winner ever?
Last week, we asked you the best Gold Cup winner in Royal Ascot history. And, it was a dead heat! With 43% of the vote each, you couldn't decide who the best was: Yeats, with his four wins in the 2000s, or Stradivarius, who will be going for his fourth Gold Cup this week!