Ward, Ortiz Hoping Campanelle Can Salvage Royal Ascot Meet In Saturday's Platinum Jubilee - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Ward, Ortiz Hoping Campanelle Can Salvage Royal Ascot Meet In Saturday’s Platinum Jubilee

Campanelle wins the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot for trainer Wesley Ward.

Wesley Ward and Irad Ortiz have endured a difficult Royal Ascot so far, but Campanelle will lift their spirits considerably if she can win at the Royal Meeting for a third successive year in a fabulously competitive Group 1 Platinum Jubilee Stakes, which this year offers £1 million in prize money for the first time.

Horses who win three years running at Royal Ascot are rare enough. Horses who win three different races in three years are far rarer still, but that is what Campanelle is bidding to do, having been successful in the 2020 Queen Mary Stakes and then in last year's Commonwealth Cup, where she was declared the winner following the controversial relegation of first past the post Dragon Symbol.

Mind you, she faces formidable opposition from Australia in particular, with Home Affairs, a stablemate of stunning King's Stand winner Nature Strip, joined by a talented compatriot in Artorius, and there is also a Japanese challenge from Grenadier Guards, who was a two-year-old Group 1 winner.

Ward, whose 12 previous Royal Ascot winners include the three main sprint races, all of which feature in the 35-race QIPCO British Champions Series, fully appreciates what an achievement it would be for Campanelle to win again, and while Golden Pal's much anticipated King's Stand Stakes turned into a nightmare after he got left at the start, he is optimistic about his filly's chance.

He said: “To have any winner at Royal Ascot is something, but if she were to win for a third time there it would be phenomenal. We are so excited for that.

“She's coming here after a strong performance on her comeback at Keeneland, and if you watch that race what she did was pretty impressive. Six furlongs is her perfect distance and she loves Ascot. She'll take to any surface, and that's a big plus for her too.”

Nature Strip would be at short odds to complete a double achieved spectacularly by Australian pathfinder Choisir in 2003 if trainer Chris Waller had chosen to take up his engagement here, but Waller has resisted the temptation. Waller has done so not only in consideration of compromising Nature Strip's preparation for the immensely valuable Everest Stakes back home, but also because he has brought over another sprinting tour de force in Home Affairs, who beat Nature Strip a short head in February's Lightning Stakes, a race with a history as a key pointer to Royal Ascot success in the past.

Home Affairs is four years younger than Nature Strip and his future at stud on the Coolmore roster is already assured. However, success here would undoubtedly enhance his stallion value.

Waller, whose first Royal Ascot runner Brazen Beau was an arguably unlucky second to Ward's Undrafted in the 2016 Diamond Jubilee, said: “It was great for Home Affairs to travel with a horse like Nature Strip, as he's a three-year-old colt and Nature Strip is an old gelding who has been around and so makes a great travelling companion. He galloped at Ascot on Friday morning, as did Nature Strip, and it went perfectly. I was pretty happy with what they did.”

“We did want to keep them apart, for sure, but I think it will be a tough 1200 metres (six furlongs) and I think Home Affairs is a very good 1200 metre horse – not that Nature Strip's not. This fits in well for Home Affairs, who is going to be a stallion once he leaves England. Running here he could make his value even greater than it already is. He's in the July Cup, but we'll just take it one race at a time and I'll leave that to the owners.”

Artorius represents joint license-holders Anthony Freedman and his son Sam, who has been supervising preparations at Newmarket. Sam Freedman believes Artorius, a powerful finisher who will be ridden by straight track specialist Jamie Spencer, has what it takes – provided he can stay in touch.

Freeman said: “He's a hold-up horse who is usually a bit slow out of the boxes and wants a good strong tempo. He's probably more of a 1400 metre (seven furlongs) horse, but that should hold him in good stead at Ascot. His last 100 metres will be excellent, but his problem is that he can give himself too much to do. He always hits the line hard and just needs to stay in touch.

“Hopefully Jamie can get him out of the gates a bit better and hold a spot a little closer. We went for him for a reason.”

The betting is dominated by international challengers, but the home team has stronger credentials here than it did in the King's Stand Stakes and features several classy types who are already Group 1 winners.

Foremost among them in terms of numbers of Group 1 wins is Alcohol Free, whose heavy ground and soft ground wins at a mile in last year's Coronation Stakes and Sussex Stakes followed a juvenile success over six furlongs on the Cheveley Park Stakes. She hasn't looked the same filly so far over a mile this year, but Andrew Balding has always felt she has the speed for sprinting.

Haydock Sprint Cup winner Emaraaty Ana is another Group 1 winner who hasn't recovered his best form yet.

Much shorter in the betting is Godolphin's Creative Force, whose five wins last year included the seven-furlong Jersey Stakes here at Royal Ascot and the QIPCO British Champions Sprint over course and distance in October, where he beat Diamond Jubilee runner-up Glen Shiel and Minzaal, with last month's impressive Duke Of York winner Highfield Princess (a handicap winner here last year) as well as Kinross and Happy Romance among those further behind.

Charlie Appleby feels Creative Force was a bit rusty after a break when running in the Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan and added: “He's definitely benefited from the run and his preparation has been great. He looks fantastic and he's going to be a live player.”

Appleby also saddles former Classic hope Naval Crown, who was fourth in the Al Quoz. He said: “He ran a very fine race in his first start at sprinting level. His homework has been good and he can hopefully be in the top sprinting division this year.”

A Case Of You won the Al Quoz from Happy Romance, having earlier won Longchamp's Prix de l'Abbaye. As a dual Group 1 sprint winner the Ado McGuinness-trained four-year-old obviously merits plenty of respect, while Richard Hannon warns we should not dismiss Happy Romance.

Hannon said: “She just tweaked a joint so she couldn't run at York, but missing that hasn't done her any harm and she's looking better than ever.”

William Haggas has already won one of the week's main prizes with Baaeed and he was unlucky not to take a second with Maljoom in the St James's Palace Stakes. He saddles Sacred, a close second to Campanelle in the Queen Mary two years ago and last seen winning the seven-furlong Hungerford Stakes at Newbury in August.

Haggas said: “You needn't worry about her absence as she goes well fresh and has had a racecourse outing. She's in great shape and just needs fast ground, so hopefully she'll be competitive.

“Obviously the trip is a bit short for her, but unfortunately there's no race for her over seven. It's a Group 1 and that's why we are going.”

Ralph Beckett hopes Kinross can get in the money. He said: “Ideally he'd prefer rain, but he ran well on fast ground in the John O'Gaunt and he ran really well at Ascot on QIPCO British Champions Day, where things might have been different if he'd got the break.”

Henry Candy, whose Twilight Calls chased home Nature Strip in an excellent second, saddles an outsider who could outrun his odds in last month's Windsor Listed winner Run To Freedom.

Candy, who won the 2016 Diamond Jubilee with the half-brother Twilight Son, carrying the same silks, said: “He's from a late maturing family and he's improving. He's a big boy and he seems very well.”

Richard Fahey runs Umm Kulthum and said: “We've kept her for the race and I'm very pleased with what she's shown. She needs to improve again but she might as she's only had a few runs. She was off nearly a year before she won at Newmarket and that was a good performance. She's had plenty of time to get over it and the faster they go the better.”

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