Royal Ascot: Love Reigns and Twilight Gleaming head US challenge for trainer Wesley Ward | racing news
Wesley Ward’s Royal Ascot team is taking shape and is set to form part of a formidable overseas challenge at the meeting.
Ward’s Love Reignsfourth in last year’s Queen Mary, and Twilight Gleaming, second in the same race two years ago, are both on course to return. They could be joined by Brad Cox’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint heroine Caravel.
Ward said: “Love Reigns and Twilight Gleaming are doing great. They are both coming off nice comeback wins and their owner Barbara Banke (of Stonestreet Stables) is really looking forward to getting them over there. She loves Ascot as much as me and we are all excited.
“I was really happy with Love Reigns in the Limestone Stakes. She had to switch a couple of times in the run but showed a great attitude to get up on the line, while Twilight Gleaming showed a lot of speed in her comeback race.
“Twilight Gleaming will definitely go for the King’s Stand Stakes, whereas Love Reigns will have an entry there and in the Commonwealth Cup.”
Ward has made his name winning the juvenile contests at Ascot and American Rascala son of his Queen Mary and King’s Stand winner Lady Aurelia, made a great impression when winning on his debut.
“American Rascal has come out of his first race in super shape. The team at Stonestreet really liked him and it was exciting to see him produce a performance like that,” said Ward.
“fandom looks another good prospect after his debut win on the grass and we also have some nice two-year-olds to run at Belmont, so we will see what else unfolds in the coming days.
“bledsoe has already traveled over to England and will run in a novice race at Ascot on May 13. He won America’s first two-year-old race of the year on the dirt at Keeneland but his mother Shrinking Violet was a multiple stakes winner of the turf , so we are looking forward to getting him on the grass.”
Classic Causeway among strong international challenge
Kenny McPeek’s Classic Causeway could be a rare American runner in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes while Jorge Delgado’s New York Thunder is a possible for the Commonwealth Cup.
There looks set to be a strong Australian representation in the sprint contests, with Artorius back for more having finished third in the Platinum Jubilee last year.
Trainer Sam Freedman said: “Artorius had his first improving gallop the other day, having come off a bit of a fresh. He seems to be shaping up really well and will have a couple of trials over here before we put him on the plane.
“I think he is definitely hitting Royal Ascot this year in better form than he was 12 months ago. He is not far off the likes of Anamoe and his win in the Canterbury has worked out, with the runner-up Imperatriz going on to win another Group One.
“There are a few Aussies coming over again this year. I think you will see a decent filly in the King’s Stand in Coolangatta and then you have an older horse in The Astrologist, who is right around the mark. Our horse proved last year that he is up to competing over there and, provided a few things go his way, we would be very hopeful of another big performance.”
Coolangatta is trained by David Eustace, son of former Newmarket handler, James, in partnership with Ciaron Maher.
“Coolangatta galloped yesterday and will have her first proper workout next week. She has improved again physically from the Lightning Stakes and we feel we are ahead of the game in terms of her preparation,” said Eustace.
“We are stepping into the unknown when it comes to international travel but Coolangatta has done a lot of traveling around Australia and is used to being in unfamiliar places. We are hopeful that she will handle that side of things well but you never know until you do it
“We think the 1,000 meters of the King’s Stand, with the uphill finish, looks ideal and genuine fast ground will be to her advantage as well.”
The Astrologist, trained by Leon and Troy Corstens, is already in the UK and will take in a prep race ahead of Ascot having run in Dubai.
“He has settled beautifully in Newmarket – he is a very adaptable horse and enjoys the travel. The plan is for him to have a racecourse gallop this week on the Rowley Mile in preparation for the 1895 Duke of York Stakes,” said Troy Corstens.
“He will then head to Royal Ascot for the Platinum Jubilee. We feel that this will be the perfect race for him. He is a renowned straight-track horse in Australia and we feel the testing course of Ascot will suit him immensely.”