'Weightlifter' Lady Aurelia ready to flex her muscles again for Ward
This month's royal wedding featured American Meghan Markle in a starring role and another visitor from across the pond may well be generating more royal headlines in three weeks' time.
Wesley Ward's now annual pilgrimage to Royal Ascot has been littered with star performances and this year he is readying a bumper ten-strong team to wage war with over the five-day fixture.
Jet-propelled sprinters have become Ward's calling card and, while he is diversifying this time with runners in the Hunt Cup (Master Merion) and the Duke of Cambridge (Con Te Partiro), it is the speed-centred races where his challenge appears strongest.
Headlining the raiding party is two-time Royal Ascot winner Lady Aurelia. In 2016 she blew the Queen Mary field to pieces before returning 12 months later to win the King's Stand.
A nose was the difference between victory and defeat when going down to Marsha in the Nunthorpe, before a disappointing run in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint.
Although beaten at odds-on for her seasonal reappearance at Keeneland last month, Ward on Tuesday reported Lady Aurelia to have come on massively for the run.
"She's bigger and heavier than she has been in years past and I could see in the days following that race it really was an effort for her," Ward said. "She put a lot into that race.
"We backed off her and she bulked back up, started her work schedule and she's like a weightlifter now. She's got muscles upon muscles.
"Her last two breezes have been eyeopeners like they have in the past and she's got a fondness for Ascot."
Ward is similarly bullish about the chances of Bound For Nowhere, who will run in Saturday's Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
Fourth in the Commonwealth Cup at last year's meeting, the four-year-old has been impressing his trainer at home, who added: "I think he's going to run an unbelievable race, I'm really excited for that guy."
A new temporary home awaits Ward and his team, as he will be staying at Paul Cole's Whatcombe yard, with pre-race planning well underway.
"I try to see different places as they've all been fantastic. The horses thrive and I'm really excited about going to Whatcombe," Ward said.
"Ollie Cole is going to be supervising and we've facetimed back and forth and have a plan of what to do on the gallops. We're also hopeful of having a breeze at Newbury racecourse."
Australian juvenile Luck Favours adds another international element to the meeting this year as she is an intended runner in the Queen Mary.
Ward said of the competition: "I wish them them a lot of luck but just a little bit better for me on the day!"
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