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This is his year – Ward convinced Golden Pal can star at Royal meeting

Wesley Ward is confident his American speedball Golden Pal will show British racegoers his true colours in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot next week.

It could be argued the four-year-old is the best sprinter in the world judged on his two stunning victories at the Breeders’ Cup, but he has yet to produce that sort of form on UK soil.

He was mowed down late by The Lir Jet on his first visit to Royal Ascot in the 2020 Norfolk Stakes, while having missed the showpiece meeting last season, he disappointed in the Nunthorpe at York.

Golden Pal is unbeaten in three starts on home turf since, however, and Ward feels he is at his peak following a Sunday morning workout ahead of catching a flight to Stansted on Wednesday morning.

“We were looking to get through yesterday and make sure we got in and out of there in good order and we did, so we’re ready to roll,” said the trainer.

“I’m so excited for this horse I can’t even tell you. He’s the best I’ve ever brought to Ascot in all these years, and I’ve brought some good ones, but this guy is the fastest of the fast.

“He’s really matured from last year to this year mentally and physically he’s gotten bigger and stronger, as any horse would from three to four, but he’s just a pure athlete and this is his year.

“After the Breeders’ Cup last year, when I asked Michael Tabor if he could ask his buddies in the Coolmore partnership if we could keep him going, and he got back to me and said we could roll on, this is what we’ve been planning for – the King’s Stand.

“We got his season off to a bang here at Keeneland and we’re almost there.”

Golden Pal (right) in action at York last year
Golden Pal (right) in action at York last year (Nigel French/PA)

Golden Pal is one of a small but select team of five horses Ward is sending across the Atlantic as he bids to add to his 12 previous Royal Ascot victories, the others being Campanelle (Platinum Jubilee), Love Reigns (Queen Mary), Seismic Spirit (Windsor Castle) and Ruthin (Palace of Holyroodhouse Stakes).

While the Washington-born trainer usually houses his raiding party in Newmarket, this year they will be based at Chelmsford racecourse.

“They ship out Wednesday at 4.30am, so they should arrive late on Wednesday night if they don’t hit any traffic,” Ward added.

“I figured that after a long flight they can jump right off and straight into bed as Stansted to Chelmsford is only a few miles away, whereas Newmarket means a little longer on the lorry.

“They’ll have an easy day on Thursday and Friday, Saturday, Sunday they’ll have a couple of gallops there at Chelmsford and then we can move into Ascot be in good shape.”

When asked what he felt his best chance of a winner was, Ward is in no doubt.

He said: “I don’t think I have to answer that one. Golden Pal is the best I’ve ever had, that’s for sure, and he’s coming into the race just like you’d like to see.

“I’ve got Blake Heap coming over with him and the others on the Fed Ex plane, just to make sure everything goes well and we’re trying to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s.”

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