US champion jockey Ortiz to make British debut at Royal Ascot
America's reigning champion jockey Jose Ortiz will make his British debut at Royal Ascot, where he will partner Yoshida and Bucchero on Tuesday's card.
The New York-based Puerto Rican, 24, won the Eclipse Award for outstanding rider for 2017, when he also topped the prize-money list. Among a multitude of top-level winners in his short career are two Breeders' Cup victories and last year's Belmont Stakes on Tapwrit.
His brother Irad rode the Wesley Ward-trained Acapulco to finish second to Mecca's Angel in the Nunthorpe Stakes in 2015.
Jose Ortiz will ride the Bill Mott-trained Yoshida, who landed his first Grade 1 success in the Old Forester Turf Classic on the Kentucky Derby undercard, in the Queen Anne Stakes, while leading turf sprinter Bucchero lines up for the King's Stand for trainer Tim Glyshaw.
"Jose is obviously the top rider in this country and it'll be very interesting to see how he matches up with some of the European jockeys," said Harlan Malter, managing partner of the Ironhorse Racing Stable. which owns Bucchero.
Fourth in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Del Mar in November, the six-year-old was a close third after meeting trouble in running in the Grade 3 Twin Spires Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs.
"We were very happy with the way he ran on Oaks day – we just were not particularly pleased with the severe bump he received just as he was about to make the lead coming out of the turn!" added Malter. "The jockey felt Bucchero lost all of the momentum he usually brings out of the turn and it cost him the race.
"However, what we are most proud of and really what makes Bucchero so special is that even with the bump, when many horses will quit, he put his head down, pinned his ears and went about trying to win the race despite the trouble."
Bucchero will be housed at Abington Place in Newmarket during his British sojourn. "Tim and the team all feel that if all goes well in the travel and his preparations, Bucchero should love the straight course at Ascot," said Malter.
Lady Aurelia heads Ward's squad
Royal Ascot's adopted American son Wesley Ward is busy putting together his usual strong team for the meeting, headed by Lady Aurelia, who will bid to complete a Royal Ascot hat-trick in the King's Stand.
On Tuesday at Keeneland the four-year-old worked for the second time since her surprise defeat in Listed company on her seasonal debut at the same venue.
With exercise rider Julio Garcia aboard, Lady Aurelia worked with fellow Ascot contenders Hemp Hemp Hurray (Jersey or Commonwealth Cup) and Bound For Nowhere (King's Stand).
Speaking of Lady Aurelia, Ward commented: "Last year, working into the Breeders’ Cup, I thought she was getting complacent, kinda easy-going, taking things in her stride. For whatever reason, she went out to Del Mar and didn’t fire and maybe that was a telltale sign that she wasn’t relaxed and doing things on her own.
"Now she’s really aggressive like she has been in the past. That’s what you want to see going to where we’ve been a couple of times before."
Ward has yet to finalise his juvenile team, but among those earmarked for Ascot are Chelsea Cloisters (Queen Mary), Shang Shang Shang (Norfolk) and Stillwater Cove (Albany).
Ward said his Ascot contingent would continue to work at Keeneland every Tuesday, weather permitting; they are scheduled to leave Indianapolis on June 4 for their overseas flight.
Among other likely US-trained runners for Royal Ascot are three more Commonwealth Cup contenders in dual Group 1 runner-up Beckford, now trained by Kentucky-based Brendan Walsh after leaving Gordon Elliott, plus the Simon Callaghan-trained Run Away and Todd Pletcher's Gidu.
The sole remaining non-European runner at the royal meeting is likely to be top Aussie sprinter Redkirk Warrior, whose primary target is likely to be the Diamond Jubilee. Frankie Dettori has been booked.
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