Horse racing Royal Ascot parade

Ward Expecting Ascot Fireworks From Chelsea Cloisters

11 months ago

US sprint king Wesley Ward is very confident his two-year-old filly Chelsea Cloisters will prove hard to beat in next Wednesday’s Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The effervescent trainer sent out Acapulco to a fine win in the race back in 2015 before his Lady Aurelia produced one of the most memorable victories in modern times at Royal Ascot when blitzing to a seven-length triumph under Frankie Dettori in the 2016 renewal. She went on to win last year’s Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes and is a leading candidate to defend that crown on Tuesday, the opening day of the world’s best race meeting.

It may well send a collective shudder down the spines of Chelsea Cloisters’ rivals when they hear that Ward believes his First Samurai filly, an eight-length winner of her only start to date at Keeneland, is as fast if not faster than anything else he’s run in the race before.

“She looks as good as any two-year-old filly I’ve brought to the Queen Mary – her works have been eye-openers,” Ward told reporters. “We’ve breezed her on the soft going and she relishes it – she eats it up. If it comes up hard and firm she will be ready but if there’s give in the ground it will not be a concern.”

Punters have done well over the years following Ward’s advice and betting firms are taking no chances with the American raider who is currently on general offer at just 11/4 to justify her trainer’s confidence. The biggest exception is the 7/2 available with Bet365 who seem more prepared than most to take on the ante-post favourite. Aidan O’Brien’s Just Wonderful, who scored by a neck on her recent debut at the Curragh over six furlongs, is next in the market at 4/1 with SportPesa, ahead of stable companion Fairyland, winner of both her starts to date, most recently taking a listed event at the Curragh. She is a 7/1 shot with Paddy Power.

Paul Alster

Written by Paul Alster

Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.