‘Flying machine’ Lady Aurelia ready to take off for Ward
WESLEY WARD is a man who sees the glass half full.
And, since he sent Strike The Tiger to blitz home in the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot seven years ago, the American trainer has proven as good as his ebullient words with seven winners at the meeting.
He describes Lady Aurelia as a “flying machine” and reckons she is ready for take-off in the Connolly’s Red Mills Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket today.
Ward’s first career as a jockey, which earned him an Eclipse Award as the outstanding apprentice in 1984, ended when he was just 21. “I ate my way out of the saddle,” he says. But he showed an even greater hunger for success as a trainer specialising in speedy juveniles.
“I started from very humble beginnings and found a niche with two-year-olds,” he said. “If you had them prepared early, you can beat better horses. By the time the bigger races in America come around, in August, they’re catching you up. So I was looking for where I could take some of these fast, precious two-year-olds.
“We start breaking them in on November 1 and they start doing speed work on March 1. I pretty much know from the first few works the ones to target for Ascot. They need to be from fast families and like the grass but their mind has to be right, be able to ship over here and take all that in.”
Lady Aurelia took all that in along with the opposition and blew them away for Frankie Dettori in the Queen Mary Stakes at Ascot in June and then again in the Prix Morny at Deauville last month. The filly did not seem entirely happy on the surface in France but has been happy working on the turf of Newmarket’s Rowley Mile where her preparation has been overseen by Ward’s assistant Rachel Rodman who is originally from West Kilbride.
Having crossed the Atlantic, Lady Aurelia now has to prove she can cross the divide between precious juvenile and champion two-year-old.
“She really gets a hold of this track and just scoots up that hill,” Ward said. “I think she’s really going to like this track. This will probably be the biggest test so far. It’s the fall, your two-yearolds have risen to the top and she’s going to be facing the best fillies in Europe. So, if she can win, which I’m very confident she will, then it’s really a big accomplishment.”
And definitely a good reason to top up that glass.
RAISE A GLASS: Lady Aurelia is the hot favourite at Newmarket and trainer Wesley Ward believes he will toast a win today.