US trainer Wesley Ward has long since proved himself an ace at preparing sprinters for the big occasion, and the word is that his Lady Aurelia will take plenty of beating in the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 15.
Lady Aurelia (9/4), Queen Mary Stakes Favorite
It is not so long ago that the Brits scoffed at the thought of any American horse being good enough to cross the Atlantic to beat them at their own game at Royal Ascot, but Ward has well and truly shown he has what it takes to win on the biggest stage of all having saddled the likes of No Nay Never, Hootenannay, Acapulco and Undrafted to major wins at the royal meeting in recent years.
Last year Ward saddled Acapulco to win the Queen Mary Stakes. This tremendous filly went on to finish a remarkable second in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes on her subsequent start, and according to media reports the likeable Ward believes his Lady Aurelia has no less a chance of success in this year’s renewal of the ‘Queen Mary’.
Bookmakers are taking no chances and generally offer a best price of just 9/4 about the daughter of Scat Daddy – the same sire as Acapulco – landing the prestigious juvenile fillies’ race for the US for the second year in succession.
Lady Aurelia certainly looked the part on her only racecourse appearance to date, storming to a seven-and-a-half-length win in a maiden fillies event at Keeneland in April, since when she has been trained with the Queen Mary Stakes as her one and only target.
Her US win came on fast ground, so if Ascot rides on the soft side of good there would be a slight question mark about her handling conditions. While nothing in racing is certain, particularly with juveniles, Lady Aurelia is a filly who is going to take plenty of beating on the day.
Queen Mary Stakes Contenders
Ward appears to have scared off much of the opposition for this race and also has the option of running Silvertoni,(15/2) winner of two events in the States, and Create a Dream (9/1), who scrambled home by a neck on her racecourse bow at Ascot in April, and is also well regarded.
It is certain that Ward will not run three fillies in the race, but he might saddled to in an effort to make sure he keeps the prize after last year’s success.
But, as ever, no race at Royal Ascot is so easy to predict. Richard Fahey’s Queen Kindly (8/1) might only have won a minor event at Catterick on her racecourse bow but she went into a lot of notebooks as a filly who would make an impression on a much bigger stage. Showing a good cruising speed and a fine change of gear, the daughter of the legendary Frankel, slammed her rivals at Catterick and might be up to making a race of it with the expected favourite. She is offered at 8/1.
Richard Hannon’s Grizzel(14/1)has won both her starts to date including the Hilary Needler Trophy at Beverley, often a good guide to the Queen Mary Stakes, and she would have place prospects, at least.
In the News
 skysports.com, Royal Ascot rain a pain for Wesley Ward, 2016