Ward leads record American challenge at Royal Ascot

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

The most celebrated of Ward's entries could give him an early success.

Lady Aurelia, who won the Queen Mary Stakes in 2016, returns to run in the King's Stand Stakes, the signature race Tuesday on the opening day of the festival. She is the pre-race favorite at 3-1 and will be ridden by jockey Frankie Dettori.

Ward, who has a U.S.-record seven winners at Ascot since his first in 2009, also has high hopes for Arawak in the Coventry Stakes on Tuesday and Happy Like A Fool in the Queen Mary on Wednesday.

There are 14 American horses running in the five days of racing and American broadcaster NBC is showing daily coverage of the royal meeting for the first time.

Ward loves the pomp and ceremony of the festival, and said the forecasted warm weather will improve his chances of winner.

''In previous meetings, I've had to contend with the weather,'' said Ward, a former jockey, ''but when the weather is nice, mine run better than when it is soft.

''This year the weather is great, the horses look well and everything looks wonderful.''

Six of Ward's seven winners have come in juvenile events for 2-year-olds, the exception being Undrafted in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes in 2015.

''It's my favorite racecourse, it's a beautiful setting, with the best horses competing,'' Ward said. ''It's now the focal point of my year.''

Mark Casse, Bill Mott, Todd Pletcher and Graham Motion are the other American trainers with horses at Ascot this week.

Casse trained Tepin to victory in the Queen Anne Stakes at Ascot last year, in what was the mare's first race in Europe.


Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80