GB: Unbeaten Breeders’ Cup heroine Aunt Pearl, joint-champion European two-year-old filly Campanelle and G1- winning sprinter Extravagant Kid look set to form a formidable transatlantic challenge at Royal Ascot in 2021.
Entries released on Wednesday for 12 races across the five days, including all eight G1 highlights, feature eight US-trained runners with entries, plus strong representation from France, Germany and Ireland for the June 15-19 highlight.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Aunt Pearl will make her seasonal return for trainer Brad Cox in the G2 Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs this weekend ahead of a potential tilt at the G1 Coronation Stakes.
Liz Crow, who manages the owning partnership, said: “We first want to see how Aunt Pearl performs on Friday in the Edgewood. She is doing great at the moment. She has been training really well and we are excited to see her back out.
“Hopefully, she comes back and wins well, and then we will be able to move forward with the plan of running at Royal Ascot.”
Trainer Brendan Walsh has not ruled out the idea of allowing Al Quoz Sprint winner Extravagant Kid to contest both the G1 King’s Stand Stakes and the G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes on Saturday June 19.
“Everything has been good with Extravagant Kid and Royal Ascot is the target if all goes well between now and then,” said Walsh.
“Both races have their appeal and it made sense to enter for both as he is quite versatile. We will see how each race is shaping and make our minds up nearer the time. I would not write off him running in both just yet, although I would say it is unlikely.”
Campanelle provided trainer Wesley Ward with an 11th Royal Ascot success in last year’s Queen Mary Stakes and is one of two entries for the trainer in the Commonwealth Cup alongside Illegal Smile. He also has Bound For Nowhere in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, plus Maven in the King’s Stand.
“Campanelle did us proud last year and the owners are really excited about bringing her back for the Commonwealth Cup,” said Ward. “I have had my eye on this for some time as I think the stiff six furlongs on the straight course will suit her really well.
“We are looking to give her a prep race about a month out from Ascot, although where that will be I am not sure yet.
“Our other filly in the Commonwealth Cup, Illegal Smile, will be out next weekend in a five-furlong race on the grass at Churchill Downs. How she gets on there will determine whether she travels.
“Bound For Nowhere made a really exciting comeback at Keeneland recently. With him, we are jostling over bringing him to Ascot again or going for a G1 sprint on Belmont Stakes day. It will be a while before we make a decision on that.
“Maven has always been a very talented horse. He travelled over to Ascot in 2019 but we pulled him out because of the soft ground. Then he won a G3 over in France but since then has had some minor issues.
“He had a problem with an undescended testicle, so we gelded him and gave him a long time off and then he fired a bullet on his comeback win at Keeneland a couple of weeks ago. I know it was just an allowance race, but his numbers were through the roof – he essentially ran the same race as Bound For Nowhere – and that told me that he warrants an Ascot entry.
“He ran so big in that effort that I am thinking about training him for Ascot rather than running again beforehand. We are really excited by this guy.”
Ward also singled out Ruthin, a daughter of Queen Anne Stakes winner Ribchester, as his main fancy for Wednesday’s Queen Mary Stakes, a race the trainer has won four times.
“The filly by Ribchester, Ruthin, produced an eye-opening performance at Keeneland last week,” Ward added.
“We expected her to run well going into the race. Not all horses produce in the afternoon what they show you in the morning, but she did, and it was great to see. She is on a direct course for the Queen Mary Stakes.”