Royal Ascot: Irad Ortiz joins John Velazquez and Joel Rosario on star-studded Wesley Ward team

Horse Racing Irad Ortiz jockey
Irad Ortiz: will make his Royal Ascot debut on Twilight Gleaming. Photo: Lauren King

By Jon Lees

USA: America’s champion jockey Irad Ortiz is set to make his Royal Ascot debut after he was announced among a star-studded team of jockeys that will ride for Wesley Ward also featuring Frankie Dettori, John Velazquez and Joel Rosario.

Ortiz, 28, has been named to partner Twilight Gleaming, winner of a turf maiden at Belmont this month, in the Windsor Castle Stakes.

The Puerto Rican, who has ridden 175 winners to lead the way this year, completed a hat-trick of Eclipse Awards as North America’s Outstanding Jockey for the 2020 season. He will be having his second ride in Britain after partnering Acapulco to finish second in the 2015 Nunthorpe.

Twilight Gleaming will be one of eight horses Ward is sending, headed by Commonwealth Cup favourite Campanelle, set to be reunited with Frankie Dettori, who rode her to Queen Mary Stakes success in 2020, according to the Daily Racing Form.

Ward, who has trained 11 royal-meeting winners, has also enlisted John Velazquez for Maven in the King’s Stand Stakes and Lucci (Norfolk) plus Joel Rosario for Napa Spirit (Coventry), Ruthin (Queen Mary), Nakatomi (Norfolk) and Golden Bell (Albany).

Despite the challenges of travel while pandemic restrictions remain in place there are set to be ten US runners at Royal Ascot.

Extravagant Kid (King’s Stand and Diamond Jubilee), the Brendan Walsh-trained Al Quoz Sprint winner, will join the Ward runners on the plane. He is to be ridden by Ryan Moore.

Two-year-old Artos, who followed up a debut second to Ruthin with a victory at Churchill Downs last week, will be a first runner for trainer Rusty Arnold. She was ridden to victory by Julien Leparoux who could have a chance to add to his 2016 success on Tepin in the Queen Anne Stakes.

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