THE international raiders have become part of what makes Royal Ascot special with the likes of Choisir, Black Caviar, Little Bridge and Teppin lighting up the meeting.
Joining the substantial raiding party from Wesley Ward this year are three horses from the USA and Australia, and connections of all three are hopeful of taking home first prize.
Here we speak to those closest to Yoshida (Queen Anne), Bucchero (King’s Stand) and Redkirk Warrior (Diamond Jubilee) to get their thoughts on their contenders.
How has your horse coped with the journey across to Royal Ascot?
Riley Mott, assistant to Bill Mott, trainer of Queen Anne contender Yoshida: He’s in great form. He travelled over nicely and has settled in really well at Newmarket at Abington Place Stables. His appetite has been good and we’re very happy.
Tim Glyshaw, trainer of King’s Stand contender Bucchero: Bucchero has taken the trip over really well and has trained nicely since arriving. He has eaten up and we couldn’t ask for more.
Ben Hayes, assistant to David Hayes, trainer of Diamond Jubilee contender Redkirk Warrior: We’ve been really happy with him since he arrived. We didn’t weigh him before he left but he looks in the same condition as when I last saw him and he’s eating and drinking well. He was originally from England and he has done plenty of travelling, having raced here, Hong Kong and Australia, so he seems to take his travelling really well.
What does it mean to your yard to have a runner at Royal Ascot?
Mott: Winning at Royal Ascot would be right up there with some of the top winners our operation has had. We identified him early on as a top talent and we’re looking forward to seeing him progress again at Royal Ascot.
Glyshaw: I had never been any place outside of America a year ago and now I’m going to Royal Ascot, so it is a big deal. We are a small stable at home so this kind of stuff doesn’t happen to us much.
Hayes: Coming to Royal Ascot with him has always been in the back of our minds. It’s great to be here and it would be very special for everyone if he could win.
Your horse will be running on the straight course at Royal Ascot, something unusual for most international runners. How do you think he will handle it?
Mott: The straight mile is an unknown, but I can’t see it hurting our chances. We’re bringing over a strong horse with a high level of fitness so hopefully the straight mile can play to our strengths.
Glyshaw: There are some questions marks as he has never run without Lasix or run on a straight course, but I think none of those will be excuses for him.
Hayes: He’s won at Ascot before so it’s an advantage that he has raced on the track. He’s excellent on straight courses. He has won four of his races on straight courses and he has great credentials.
What do you think makes your horse special?
Mott: He’s a very consistent and very versatile horse; he adapts to all conditions and runs equally well whatever. We’ve wanted to bring a horse this good to Ascot for a long time.
Glyshaw: He is a big, downhill-type runner and whilst he doesn’t have the typical European style of running, he builds up his momentum and speed. When he realises he doesn’t have to turn, I think we could see a really big run. He always gives his all in every race.
Hayes: When we first got him we trained him as a miler but when we were working him at home he was producing sprinting times – he still holds the record on our gallops. He’s an amazingly fast horse and we think 1,200 metres shows that speed at it’s best.
And, finally, what chance do you think you have of winning at Royal Ascot?
Mott: He’d be one of the top three turf horses in the USA, so that gives us confidence he has the class to come over and run well at Royal Ascot. We expect a tough race though and, while you don’t want to be too bullish in these contests, we’re delighted with the horse.
Glyshaw: Lady Aurelia and Battaash are top-class horses and they might have to run below par if we are to get the better of those two. But we wouldn’t have come over here unless we thought we had a chance – and we think he has a decent chance.
Hayes: He’s no Black Caviar but he’s a good horse and we think he can do it. If he races to the best of his ability he’ll win the race, there’s no doubt in our minds about that.