By Nicholas Godfrey
USA: Breeders’ Cup winner Golden Pal, described by Wesley Ward as “the best horse I have ever trained by far”, will miss Royal Ascot owing to a minor setback and will now target the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes as his principal target.
The son of Uncle Mo is second favourite in ante-post betting for the King’s Stand Stakes behind Battaash, whose participation is also “not guaranteed” after he sustained a small fracture.
Blazingly fast Golden Pal was caught close home by The Lir Jet in last year’s Norfolk Stakes on ground softer than ideal.
He went on to justify favouritism with a blistering front-running effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Keeneland and was being prepared for his three-year-old debut at the Kentucky venue last week before being forced on to the sidelines.
“He had a minor issue – it’s not a big deal,” said Ward, speaking from Kentucky. “Golden Pal is the best horse I’ve ever trained by far and I just want to do the right thing by the horse, not push forward this time.
“He will be ready for a prep race about Ascot-time but not for the King’s Stand, which was our goal. He really needs a prep for a race like Ascot but we can push on for the Nunthorpe.”
In another blow for Ward, Queen Mary Stakes heroine Campanelle was scratched from her intended return at Keeneland on Friday. In a tweet, owners Stonestreet Stables said she “wasn’t quite herself” and will undergo a “thorough veterinary exam”.
However, she remains on course for the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, while year-older stablemate Kimari could be in line for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
Runner-up at the last two royal meetings, Kimari earned her first G1 victory last weekend in the Madison Stakes on dirt at Keeneland – and her long-term target will be back at the same venue in November.
“I kept her on the grass before because she runs equally as well on turf as dirt but the goal this year will be the Breeders’ Cup Sprint against the boys on the dirt,” said Ward.
“She’s run two bang-up races this year but we’ll be talking about Ascot. We know she likes the track and she has two legitimate excuses for getting beaten there – one being that Frankie Dettori beat us the first time, then the second time she got left at the gate with Frankie!
“The timing is good so Ascot certainly is a good option. I’m not sure about the King’s Stand because that’s five; we may try the six.”
On the other hand, Royal Ascot regular Bound For Nowhere, successful last week in G2 company at Keeneland, will probably miss out on a trip to Britain this summer as Ward prefers the G1 Jaipur on the Belmont Stakes card.
“We’ll keep him eligible [for Royal Ascot] but it looks more likely we’ll be staying Stateside with him.”