Ward’s Big Race Joy
Wesley Ward was an emotional man after Undrafted won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Ward’s daughter was admitted to hospital last night suffering from temporary facial paralysis, but they were both at Ascot to see the 14-1 shot rattle home under Frankie Dettori and pip 7-2 joint-favourite Brazen Beau.
Ward said: “We were in Frimley Hospital all last night. I don’t know what happened but my daughter got a touch of the bell’s palsy. It’s unbelievable and really special for this little girl. She really wanted to come out here. Fortunately enough, Derrick Smith sent over a wonderful doctor and we are here today to enjoy this special moment. It didn’t look like we were going to make it but we did.
“I am just elated. This is the biggest race I’ve won. I’ve won Breeders’ Cup and races here in the past, but to come here and be presented with a Group One trophy by the Queen was such a fantastic experience.
“The horse has been training unbelievably well but Frankie is superb. You can have a Porsche against Porsches, but you still gotta have the right guy (at the wheel) and this is a magical guy. He’s just a cool sitter and a go-getter.”
Dettori said: “I won this as a Group Three but not as a Group One so it was something that was missing on my CV. He struggled in the soft ground in the July Cup last year but he flew by me in the Breeders’ Cup when I rode No Nay Never.
“He jumped out of the gates like an American horse but I took a pull as I didn’t want to get there too early. I was trying to save a bit for the end. I kept an eye on the Australian horse and we kicked on, I knew it would take a good one to get by him. When you sit on a sprinter like that you get a great feeling.
“I didn’t want to kick too soon because I was going so well. I kept an eye on the yellow colours but, every time this horse runs, he finishes strong so I saved the last bit for the end and it proved me right. I knew that I had won.
“Wesley is a very, very good friend of mine and a big supporter of mine. Nothing gave me more pleasure than winning this race for him.”
Undrafted’s owner, NFL star Wes Welker, was unable to attend Ascot but he may return to Newmarket with the horse for the July Cup in which he was fourth last year.
Brazen Beau ploughed a lone furrow on the near side under Craig Williams and looked to have done enough before Undrafted surged home.
Trainer Chris Waller said: “He has done us so proud. To get so close may be frustrating tonight, but right now I’m so pleased with the way he ran and to be part of such a special occasion. It has just been a privilege to be here, and everyone has done all they can to help.
“Maybe the barrier draw did him no favours – it might have been a bit tough for him to be out on his own. But it so very nearly wasn’t a problem, and full credit to the winner.”
Brazen Beau looks set for a rematch with Undrafted in the July Cup and Waller added: “The horse is a dream horse to look after, a complete professional, and I hope the July Cup will give us a second chance.”
Williams said: “Unfortunately we didn’t have that little bit more punch at the end of the race. He was so gallant in defeat.”
Kevin Ryan has had his fair share of runners-up this week and Astaire ran a blinder in third under Jamie Spencer. He is another one set for the July Cup and Ryan said: “I’ve never lost faith in him and he’s proved today he is up to this level. I was delighted with him, he looked great and was so relaxed, and Jamie said he loved having something to aim at.
“It’s great to have this international element. This is the Olympics of the sport and the whole world should be involved.”
Rory Jiwani 20/06/15
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