Gone are the days when you could get stratospheric odds about American sprint king Wesley Ward’s raiders, such as the 33/1 starting price offered ahead of his first Royal Ascot winner Strike the Tiger’s triumph back in 2009.
Having become the first US handler to train a stakes-race winner at the royal meeting thanks to the then-two-year-old’s efforts, Ward has gone onto take seven Group events on this side of the Atlantic since, including the Berkshire showpiece’s Queen Mary Stakes three times.
Unbeaten filly Lady Aurelia made a huge impression when romping home by 7l this year, over the minimum distance of 5f, and Ladbrokes are taking no chances with the 48-year-old’s latest lightning bolt.
Lady Aurelia is the 4/5 favourite for Newmarket’s Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes, a race Ward has never had a runner in before, and while a case can be made for one or two others in the field, she’s certainly the horse to beat.
Richard Fahey’s Queen Kindly comes next at 11/4 after three wins from four runs so far in her juvenile campaign, with the Frankel filly’s sole loss coming by half a length in Royal Ascot’s Group 3 Albany Stakes.
However, Fahey’s girl finished just three quarters of a length in front of Aidan O’Brien’s Roly Poly – an 11/2 shot here – in York’s Group 2 Lowther Stakes.
Lady Aurelia beat Roly Poly by a whopping 14l in the Queen Mary, so the Ballydoyle runners recent improvement, with two wins and that second to Queen Kindly since, must prove drastic beyond measure if she’s to get involved at Newmarket.
There are a couple of potential negatives hanging over Ward’s jolly, such as only winning by three quarters of a length last time out in her first run over 6f, but that Group 1 contained previously unbeaten Freddie Head inmate Alrahma and O’Brien’s Peace Envoy, a 25/1 shot for next year’s 2000 Guineas.
Having never tackled this event before, the canny Washington State native wouldn’t have kept Lady Aurelia in Europe if he didn’t think she could land it comfortably.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.