Wesley Ward reflects on Royal Ascot and future plans

Wesley Ward is not sure what the future holds for Lady Aurelia following her disappointing effort in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The flying American filly was a heavily-backed favourite to make history with a third victory at the showpiece fixture, following her previous triumphs in the Queen Mary and last year’s King’s Stand, but finished a disappointing seventh. Ward reports the four-year-old none the worse, although she is likely to be further examined on her return to her homeland later this week.

He said: “Lady Aurelia came out of it great. We got the Ascot veterinarian team to check her out after the race and a couple of days later and she scoped clear and trotted out perfect. It just wasn’t her day.”

Asked whether he felt Lady Aurelia’s best days could be behind her, the trainer added: “It’s tough to say. She’s coming home and we’ll get the veterinarian team to check her out again and see if something pops up.

“I had lunch with the owners on Thursday and we didn’t really talk about it (the future). That decision (on retirement) isn’t mine to make.”

Ward saddled nine runners across the course of the five-day meeting and was thrilled to claim his 10th Royal Ascot success overall with Norfolk Stakes heroine Shang Shang Shang (tipped on here).

The other Ward runner to emerge with plenty of credit was Bound For Nowhere, who made much of the running in the Diamond Jubilee before finishing a close-up third.

Reflecting on the week as a whole, Ward said: “I always go into Ascot with high expectations and in all the interviews I did I was very confident we had a very good team going there. Thankfully we managed to squeeze out one winner by half a thumbnail. Shang Shang Shang is coming home and we’re kind of working back from the Breeders’ Cup with her. There’s a nice race at Saratoga over five and a half furlongs on the grass. We’ll see how she goes, but I think that could be within her range. Bound For Nowhere ran great. We could take him to Australia for the big sprint there (Everest Stakes), but we see him as a miler going forward. He’s developing from year to year and it would be great to bring him back to Ascot as a five-year-old. The Breeders’ Cup Mile could be a target for him at the end of this year. Some of the others were disappointing, but I’m proud of the two horses that did good.”

The other big disappointment of the week for Ward, along with Lady Aurelia, was the highly-touted Queen Mary favourite Chelsea Cloisters.

She is set to stay in Europe for the time being, with Ward adding: “Chelsea Cloisters got left at the gate and my horses are kind of trained to go from the front. She didn’t really have a race, so we’ve entered her up for the Prix du Bois at Deauville (July 3) and she’ll probably go there next.”