Stephanie's Kitten: several likely US runners will miss the royal meetingPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Americans stay home as weather and illness strike
THE US challenge at Royal Ascot has been greatly reduced after Wesley Ward revealed the British weather had ended his plans to send a strong team, while Coronation Stakes possible Stephanie's Kitten has an elevated white-cell count and will also stay at home.
Ward, the first US trainer to saddle a winner at Royal Ascot, has been a fixture among challengers at the meeting since his 2009 wins in the Windsor Castle and Queen Mary and had planned to contest every juvenile race next week.
However, after being forced to withdraw many of his runners due to easy going last year and receiving word from Ascot's international liaison executive Nick Smith that similar ground was all but guaranteed this time, Ward elected to keep his charges across the Atlantic.
"We've decided to keep all the forces here at home," Ward said on Tuesday. "I ended up scratching loads of them last year. Maybe the horses don't go well on the deep, soggy going, so it just doesn't make a lot of sense to travel."
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies' Turf winner Stephanie's Kitten will also miss the royal meeting. Her trainer Wayne Catalano told the Daily Racing Form: "She has an elevated white-cell count, and we just don’t want to take any chances with her.
"She’s fine. It’s just that she’s only like 90 per cent and if you’re going to run against some of the best fillies in the world over there, you need to be 110 per cent."
Stephanie’s Kitten was due to run in the Coronation Stakes at the head of a team of six or seven horses representing anglophile owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey.
Several of that team are among those being kept home by Wesley Ward, but the Ramseys still intend to make their trip to Royal Ascot where they have entries including those trained by US-based Chad Brown and the Italian-trained Real Solution.
Adrian Beaumont of the International Racing Bureau said on Wednesday that the Chad Brown-trained pair of Big Blue Kitten and Hyper would run in the Price of Wales's Stakes and the Wolferton Handicap respectively. Both are currently at Jim Boyle's yard.
Kenny McPeek may also sent Fully Living to run in the Albany, and is reported to be shipping out the horse on Sunday.