Nunthorpe for Golden Pal as Ward eyes more European adventures

Ascot winner Campanelle also has August mission to Deauville.

Wesley Ward is keeping his fingers crossed he will be able to travel to Europe later in the summer to see his Royal Ascot heroine Campanelle and the narrowly beaten Golden Pal bid for Group One honours.

It is 11 years since Ward became the first American-based trainer to saddle a Royal Ascot winner, when registering a double, and he has been in attendance every year since.

However, due to travel issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Washington-born handler watched this year’s action from his base in Keeneland, Kentucky.

Having failed to claim a winner at the meeting in 2019, Ward admitted to being relieved after Campanelle provided him with a fourth win in the Queen Mary Stakes and an 11th Royal Ascot triumph overall under Frankie Dettori on Saturday.

He said: “We had a little celebration and a little champagne on Saturday afternoon, which was nice.

“It was a relief to get a winner, because we didn’t have one last year, and seconds are not what you want – nobody remembers you finishing second!

“The Prix Morny is where we’re headed (with Campanelle). She’ll come home now and have a couple of gallops on the beautiful grass here in Keeneland, and hopefully then she’ll be ready to ship to Deauville.

“It’s actually a good trip for a horse, because you can fly direct from Chicago to Paris. I’m certainly hoping I’ll be able to go, too.”

Ward made no secret of the regard in which he holds Golden Pal before his run in the Friday’s Norfolk Stakes, but he was a big drifter in the market in the hours leading up to the race because of rain-softened ground.

But after touching odds of 18-1 before being sent off at 12-1, the rapid colt looked set to prevail before being caught in the shadows of the post by Michael Bell’s The Lir Jet.

Ward added: “He ran great, as I expected him to. If I’d known you could have got 18-1 I might have thrown a few dollars on him myself!

“He’s a fast horse with an explosive kick, but maybe Andrea (Atzeni) went a couple of seconds too soon and used up that kick a bit too early. These things happen – it’s Royal Ascot and it’s easy to talk about it afterwards.”

Golden Pal will now be prepared to take on his elders in the Nunthorpe at York in August, a race in which Ward has twice finished second with Acapulco and Lady Aurelia.

“I’ve spoken to the owners, and we’re going to aim for the Nunthorpe,” said Ward, who has a high-profile jockey booking in mind.

“I’ve been second in the race twice, and it would be great to win it.

“Irad Ortiz Jr travelled over to ride Acapulco when she ran in it as a two-year-old – because obviously the two-year-olds carry a light weight. I would hope by the time York comes around, he’ll be able to travel over to ride Golden Pal – that’s the idea.”

Ward also had to make do with minor honours in Friday’s Commonwealth Cup, with Kimari filling the runner-up spot at Royal Ascot for the second time, having been touched off in the Queen Mary 12 months ago.

“Kimari missed the break, and when you’re running at Royal Ascot that’s a severe disadvantage,” he added.

“That’s her done in Europe this year. The Breeders’ Cup is in Keeneland this year – my local track – and we’ll work back from that.

“I might run her on the dirt at Del Mar and then aim to take on the boys on the dirt at the Breeders’ Cup.”

After a return of a winner and two seconds from seven runners, Ward is already looking forward to Royal Ascot 2021.

He said: “It was a relief to get a winner this year, which is a strange thing to say because it is Royal Ascot after all and you shouldn’t really expect to win. I think they’re maybe getting used to me!

“Hopefully we’ll all be back next year ready to go again.”

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