Americans Abroad: Wesley Ward’s Campanelle Awarded Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot

Wesley WardTrainer Wesley Ward had to wait for the decision of the stewards after his Campanelle was narrowly beaten in the 2021 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, England on June 18. Sent off at 5/1 under the talented Italian Frankie Dettori, the filly was bumped and carried across the turf track in a two-furlong duel. Her opponent was the 4/1 second favorite Dragon Symbol who passed the post first by a head under jockey Oisin Murphy.

A stewards’ inquiry was announced soon after they crossed the wire in this Group 1 six furlong contest for three-year-old colts and fillies. Ward was pacing anxiously round the paddock in the torrential rain like an extremely well-dressed box walker. He knew that the result would definitely be reversed in the US but in the UK a more forgiving approach is often taken. He punched the air when the result was reversed. Archie Watson, the trainer of Dragon Symbol, went over to him and shook his hand.

Murphy’s joy after finishing first on a colt he had purchased ‘with his own money’ as a yearling for 67,000 guineas ($97,000) and sold for a much larger amount to Yoshiro Kubota was short lived. He was not only demoted to second place but received a four-day suspension for causing the interference.

Ward was delighted at the three-year-old daughter of Kodiac’s performance on her first run of the season, especially as it was on heavy ground. She was a 190,000 guineas ($278,000) purchase as a yearling for the owners Stonestreet Stables and has proved an extremely good buy. Ward knows how to get a horse fit and most of Kodiac’s progeny can handle testing turf, even though his race resume suggests that he did not.

Campanelle scored at Royal Ascot last year too, winning the five furlong Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes convincingly under Dettori. The partnership was maintained for the Group 1 Darley Prix Morny at Deauville, France in August and proved successful over a furlong further on soft ground.

Campanelle was last seen finishing fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf. Pursuing the pace set by the successful Aunt Pearl over-stretched her stamina for the longer distance of a mile. Dettori knew he could not let Aunt Pearl get away and Campanelle was headed close to the wire by two closers.

In the Commonwealth Cup, the front pair finished five lengths ahead of the 11/1 shot Measure Of Magic, a granddaughter of Kodiac by Kodi Bear, trained in Ireland by the former top jockey, Johnny Murtagh. He purchased the filly for just 9,500 euros ($11,321) as a yearling and syndicated her when she failed to reach her reserve at the Tattersalls Online August sale as a two-year-old. The 9/4 favorite Suesa, saddled by Francois Rohaut who is based in the south of France, was beaten nine lengths and finished eighth.

The revised result provided Ward with his 12th Royal Ascot win. He has made a habit of beating UK trainees with his physically precocious, trail-blazing types and has won eight races run over five furlongs with them. His Royal Ascot story started in 2009 when Strike The Tiger won the Windsor Castle Stakes from the front. He was ignored by bettors and was sent off at 33/1. Now a 14-year-old, Strike The Tiger played a part in Campanelle’s victory, ponying her to the start under ‘Mike the Cowboy’ Clark, a veteran of Ward’s training team.

Long Wait for a Win

Campanelle’s unconventional victory provided a welcome change in fortune for Stonestreet and Ward as she was his final Royal Ascot bullet from a round of eight. His first, Kaufymaker, had been strongly fancied in the Coventry Stakes, a six furlong Group 2 for juveniles on June 15. Owned and bred by Greg Kaufman, this daughter of Jimmy Creed was the only filly in the race.

She was scheduled to take on the colts as connections did not want her to race against Ward’s other top juvenile filly, Twilight Gleaming. Kaufymaker looked bigger and stronger than most of the colts but her odds increased significantly on the day. Sent off at 8/1, bettors were right to lose confidence. The ground was fast but she emptied close to the wire after racing up with the pace and was beaten four lengths into eighth under John Velazquez. The winner and runner-up were both closers.

Later that day Velazquez employed the same tactics on Maven, a four-year-old son of American Pharoah bred by Ward. He was sent off at 40/1 in the King’s Stand Stakes, a Group 1 five furlong contest. It was his first try at the highest level and he was found wanting as the betting predicted. Velazquez had to make use of his early speed to stand any chance at all and was beaten sixth lengths with only five of the 16 runners behind him when he ran out of gas.

Twilight Gleaming started as the 9/4 favorite in the five furlong Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes for two-year-old fillies in Stonestreet’s yellow silks on June 16. This daughter of National Defense bred by Pier House Stud had won her prep run in style by seven and a half lengths and looked set for victory until headed by Quick Suzy close to home. She was beaten just over a length into second under Velazquez.

Stonestreet’s Ruthin was the 3/1 favorite in the listed Windsor Castle Stakes for juvenile fillies and colts three hours later. This daughter of Ribchester was drawn in the middle of the track, which seemed to be slowest part of it on the day. Taking the most direct to the wire was not likely to be a race winning move so Dettori angled left after she broke well. He probably wanted to grab the rail but someone else got there first. Ruthin got tired and was beaten nearly four lengths into seventh. The draw was probably her undoing. Ward’s other runner in the race, Golden Bell, an 8/1 shot under Velazquez, weakened in the final furlong to finish 16th, beaten nearly nine lengths.

On June 17 Lucci, a son of Not This Time out of a Lookin At Lucky mare, took fifth, beaten a length under Velazquez in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes over five furlongs after leading for most of the race. He was a 7/1 shot whilst his barn mate Nakatomi was sent off at twice the price under Oisin Murphy in the silks of Qatar Racing. This son of Firing Line was not the quickest away and never looked to be a threat, finishing out of the money beaten six lengths.

Campanelle’s victory was a welcome relief to Ward and Stonestreet in more ways than one. It had rained so heavily that the day’s card was in danger of being canceled for safety reasons. Ward was delighted to gain another Royal Ascot win in the most extraordinary circumstances.