Wesley Ward represents the USA with pride at Royal Ascot and he could saddle up the winner of the Norfolk Stakes on Day Three.
The Norfolk Stakes is an age-group race that kicks off Ascot Gold Cup day, which is one of the feature-staying races in the world.
We look at Lucci and Nakatomi’s chances of winning the opening race, as well as assessing the top contenders for the Ascot Gold Cup, which runs later on the card.
Lucci to Start as Favorite
Washington native Wesley Ward loves winning at Royal Ascot, and he could get Day Three off to a winning start for the Americans.
Lucci opened as the +300 favorite and the two-year-old by Not This Time looks well-placed to get the chocolates.
He scored a three-length debut win at Belmont Park in May. Although heading to Europe is never easy, especially for a young colt, Ward wouldn’t have traveled him if he didn’t believe he could win.
It’s good to see jockey John Velazquez heading over for the ride. He was aboard for his debut and although he’ll need to get past the powerful O’Brien stable runners, Lucci looks the part.
This is one of the most beautiful gallops in Newmarket. Known as Between the Ditches, it also lies between the July Course and the Rowley Mile. The Wesley Ward horses have easy access from their base at the National Stud. pic.twitter.com/UGj5mQtMKc
— Emma Berry (@CollingsBerry) June 10, 2021
Stablemate Nakatomi can’t be ruled out. He is on the third line of betting at +500 after winning his debut at Keeneland in April.
The son of Firing Line scored by 2¼ lengths and Ward is confident with his well-fancied runners.
“At home, we have been working Lucci and Nakatomi together,” Ward told The Paulick Report. “Nakatomi was coming out on top, but then they had a workout in Newmarket on the Limekilns and Lucci turned the tables.
He just bounced straight through to the front and would not give up the lead.”
The winner is guaranteed a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, so it’s an important race. Ward has won the Norfolk Stakes three times and he loves the drama of everything Royal Ascot-related.
“Royal Ascot means a lot to me,” Ward told SkySports. “It’s really helped me to help my family have a better life.
“I’m able to appreciate the way other trainers train. It’s completely different from the American style. American racing is more centered in on speed so I’ll instill that in them early on in the breaking process, in their first workouts from the gate.
“I don’t work them until they can come out of the gate quickly.”
With 11 Royal Ascot wins to his name. Ward is a trainer worth following. He only has two runners lined up in Day Three and horse racing betting markets are expecting top performances.
Pick: Lucci +300
Stradivarius Headlines Feature Race
Stradivarius is a once-in-a-lifetime stayer that has dominated the Royal Ascot Festival over the last few years.
The John Gosden-trained son of Sea The Stars is a six-time winner on the track and a three-time winner of the Ascot Gold Cup, which is run over 4014m (2½ miles) and features a field of 13 entrants.
Looking to add his name to the history books is Stradivarius, which has been backed into an odds-on quote. He is a 17-time winner from 27 starts overall and unbeaten in all three attempts at the Day Three feature.
— Racing.com (@Racing) June 15, 2021
The big question is whether any of the opposition can dethrone the champion. Subjectivist is considered the next best in the field after winning the Grade 2 Dubai Gold Cup by an impressive six lengths in March.
It was his fifth win from 16 starts, but he has yet to win from two attempts at Royal Ascot. The +600 chance has been respected with the online racebook, so it could pay to watch late betting moves on race day.
A runner that has been overlooked is the Spanish Mission. The Andrew Balding-trained five-year-old owns six wins from 16 starts and he comes off a soft win at York to prepare for the Ascot Gold Cup.
The well-bred son of Noble Mission gets the services of globe-trotting jockey William Buick and +1000 is a fair price for a runner with plenty of upsides.
However, our top pick is clearly Stradivarius. He’s the Royal Ascot hero and we would love to see him tie the record of four wins alongside champion stayer Yeats.