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.
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“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.
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.