Wesley Ward, an american in Chantilly

2011/06/11 - Various Focus
You can not miss his horses in the ring, all have a "beautiful" colored hood. He carves a "W" with his blade, a "W" that stands for Ward. And also Wesley.



The american trainer hits the headlines with a nearly perfect success on our soil and high expectations prior to Royal Ascot next week. Meeting with Wesley Ward.

How did you get into racing ?

My dad was a trainer in USA, so I grew up with racehorses. I started to ride very young. Then, I became a jockey, and won nearly 335 races (note: he won the Eclipse Award for best apprentice). 

 


What are your best memories ?

As a jockey, I worked for few months in Rome (Capannelle) for Antonio Balzarini (trainer of Atoll, winner of the Italian Oaks 1990 and owner of Carroll House, winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1989). I won few races in Italy, and it gave me an opportunity to travel around Europe.

When did you start as a trainer ?

I had weight problems so I decided to follow my dad's footsteps and become a trainer in 1990. At the moment, I have around 50 horses in Florida during the winter, and then we moved between Kentucky and Saratoga during the summer.

Why did you decide to target Royal Ascot the first time in 2009 ?

I had this idea in the back of my head for a long time as my 2yos are precocious types and have a lot of speed; they are ready to run early. I looked at the meeting program, and I saw few races over 5f which could suit. I think they have a great maturity advantage against the european runners at this time of the year, particularly with the way I train them.

 

Judy the Beauty winner of the Prix de la Caravelle in Chantilly

 


Two winners on your first attempt - do you start to enjoy it ?

I was amazed, the experience was unbelievable, and made me want to come back with more horses in the future.

Why did you choose France to settle down this year ?

The weather is much better than in England, and I thought it would have been a good idea to get the horses use to it in Europe before running at Ascot. I took three horses first (in April), and all three won so I decided to get six more over in Chantilly. The horses are based with Xavier Nakkachdji (following Hubert Guy's advice), who is a great man and helped us out a lot.

You took France by storm with four winners out of five runners !

Everything went really well, I am very happy with their prep races. I knew I had good horses, and their successes in France gave me confidence for our target at Royal Ascot. The aim was to run them before arriving to France, then, a month later, race them in France, a month prior to Ascot.

 

 


What are your chances for Royal Ascot ?


I am confident, I think the horses will run well. I tried my best, and hope that they will show their abilities. As for the opposition, I do not know if they go faster than us, but I am delighted with my horses. I think my best chance will be with Judy The Beauty (Albany Stakes).

How did you choose your jockeys ?

Mike Smith rang me bacause he wanted to ride in Royal Ascot. As he is talented (note : he is Zenyatta's jockey), I gave him the ride on Gentleman’s Code in the Windsor Castle Stakes. He also partnered him in Folkestone (where they won) as I had two runners that day, and Jeffrey Sanchez (his usual rider) rode the other one (the puerto-rican jockey rides all his horses in France).
 
Do you plan to come back to France next year ?


I am not a fortune teller but with the success I had, of course, I might come back with more horses later on...