Roy The Boy takes a look at Royal Ascot and Wesley Ward looks like he will once again bring a strong team to the meeting and two winners or more looks a decent bet.
First France, then Australia, now Wesley Ward
In 1987 an absurd thing happened. A French bred horse, with a French trainer and a French jockey was entered for Kempton’s King George. His name was Nupsala.
The pundits laughed until the ‘P’ ran down their ankles. The French? What would they know about jump racing? The jockey is sure to be useless, the thing is likely to resemble a cart horse and jump like a kangaroo.
What audacity, sending a horse from France, of all places, to tackle a race like this and a defending champion such as Desert Orchid.
This attitude saw Nupsala trading at 100/1 in the days leading up to the December 26th classic and only housewives pin-money was responsible for him being sent off as the 25/1 rag in the nine-runner race.
And yet, by the end of the three-mile contest, the face of National Hunt racing in the UK and Ireland was changed forever. It turned out the French could breed National Hunt horses, they could run, they could jump too, and they could trounce Desert Orchid, Forgive ‘N Forget and Co. in winning England’s King George.
Some were not sold on the idea but, by the time The Fellow, Algan and First Gold added another four King George victories to the French tally, there was no denying French horses and trainers, if not their jockeys, were as good as, if not better than, anything the home guard had to offer.
The French don’t visit England anymore, instead they sell their horses for silly money to people with silly dress sense and even more money. Nine of the last ten King George’s have been won by French bred horses.
History repeated itself in later years, this time we were forced to accept Austria breed and trained a better class of speedball following a succession of Australian horses collecting all the major sprinting prizes at Royal Ascot.
And then it was the turn of the American’s to show us that nothing is sacred. In a 1987 King George moment some lunatic from the USA entered a no-hoper in the Windsor Castle Stakes called Strike The Tiger.
With an American jockey, who had never seen a straight track, and 21 rivals the horse had no chance. So he went off at 33/1 …and duly won!
But his trainer, Wesley Ward, extracted a full-pint by turning out Jealous Again just 24 hours later to win a second race, the Queen Mary. By now the cat was partially out of the hat, so this five-length winner went off at a much shorter 13/2. Sheikh Mo promptly signed a cheque for her although she was never sighted on a racetrack again.
Ward has since taken a leaf out of the French playbook by returning to Ascot aplenty plundering a second Windsor Castle, the Norfolk Stakes, Queen Mary and Diamond Jubilee.
Last season, as in 2009, Ward had two Royal Ascot winner’s and he was repeatedly quoted in the press as giving Ascot lavish praise and stating his intention to keep bringing horses to the Royal meeting for years to come.
So, given you would be backing a distinct trier, what price the American horseman can collect another brace of winner’s at this year’s Royal Ascot?
Call me old fashioned but I think Coral’s 3/1 about Ward producing two or more winners is too big. The former jockey turned trainer is sure to bring across his best two-year-olds and he has also been tackling races for older horses in recent years. In short, he could have a numerically strong team and we know he never confuses his geese for swans.
1.5 points win Wesley Ward to train two or more winners at Royal Ascot 2016 at 3/1 with Coral