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Friday, 18 January, 2019

The Wesley Ward stars set to grace the royal stage

Lady Aurelia and Wesley Ward's assistant Blake Heap
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US trainer Wesley Ward's latest Royal Ascot raiding party were cooling their heels at the National Stud in Newmarket on Tuesday after arriving from Kentucky at 10pm the previous evening.

The grouping, which is headlined by last year's top sprinter Lady Aurelia, was nine-strong instead of the intended ten after two-year-old filly Fairyland was prevented from travelling due to warts on her mouth.

Hopefully the Albany Stakes contender will get the all-clear to be able to join the group, which consists of six fillies and three colts, next week.

Ward, who has won seven races since 2009 at the royal meeting, is due to fly in next week, before which operations are being overseen by his understudy Blake Heap.

The team are based at the New Heath yard at the National Stud, which lies close to the July course and hosted Lady Aurelia last summer before her third in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes.

Heap said: "Everyone travelled over well last night and they ate up. It was pretty late when we arrived but they are doing good. We have nine over so far and we may have Fairyland to join them next week.

"It's a big group but we had ten for Royal Ascot last year so it's nothing new. They all had a leadout this morning and the vets have just arrived to rehydrate them, which will take about an hour."

Of the team, all eyes were on Lady Aurelia, who is 7-2 favourite for the King's Stand Stakes. Heap added: "Like most of these, Lady Aurelia had her final work on Monday before leaving and she'll just have an easy gallop before Royal Ascot."

Other three-year-olds to make the trip are Bound For Nowhere (Commonwealth Cup) and Con De Partiro (Sandringham) but most interest was with the potential speedballs in the juvenile sextet including one particular colt bound for the Norfolk Stakes.

Heap said: "McErin is a beautiful horse. He's a big boy for a two-year-old and can be a bit of a handful. He won his first race real nice and then finished third in a stakes race on a muddy track. He's switching from dirt to turf but he's worked well on grass so we're hopeful it will work out. We also have Arawak for the Coventry Stakes."

Of the fillies, Happy Like A Fool is 3-1 favourite for the Queen Mary –and with good reason if you listen to Heap. He said: "Happy Like A Fool won her maiden very well and is potentially very nice. The same can be said for Nootka Sound, Elizabeth Darcy and Princess Peggy."

US-based jockey Flavien Prat will ride Run Away for Simon Callaghan in the Norfolk and is available to ride in other races from Tuesday to Thursday.

McErin is a beautiful horse. He's a big boy for a two-year-old and can be a bit of a handful
E.W. Terms
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