Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Cannonball nearly provided the perfect end to a dream week for American trainer Wesley Ward on the final day of the five-day Royal Ascot meeting June 20, when missing out by a neck in the Golden Jubilee Stakes (Eng-I).
The 4-year-old Catienus gelding was settled towards the rear of the 14-strong field by French jockey Olivier Peslier, who took over from John Velazquez.
Cannonball came through in the final furlong to lay down a strong challenge to Art Connoisseur, the 20-1 British outsider who got first run. There was just a neck between them on the line. It was 2 1/2 lengths back to Lesson In Humility in third.
“I just wished I could have got the money for Mr. Ramsey, who has been my main man since we moved stables. We were just eyeing up the gold cup,” said Ward, who saddled a pair of winners at Royal Ascot to become the first American trainer to win a race there. “Unfortunately, Johnny couldn’t stay on to ride the horse, but I’m sure Mr. Peslier rode a beautiful race, although I haven’t seen it again yet.
“Anytime you get beat like that it’s a tough one, it’s a bit like kissing your sister when you’re second. But at the same time it’s an honor to be placed in a race like this.”
Cannonball finished sixth June 16, the meet’s opening day, in the five-furlong King Stand’s Stakes (Eng-I). Strike The Tiger, at 33-1, blitzed his way to victory in the Windsor Castle Stakes that same day for Ward in the historic win. Ward struck again for America with his filly Jealous Again in the Queen Mary Stakes (Eng-II) the following day.
“The original intention (for Cannonball) was to go for the July Cup (Eng-I, July 10 at Newmarket), but he’s had two hard runs very quickly and I like to give them a break between races so will talk it over with Mr. Ramsey,” Ward said.
“This is such a great sporting event and I think that if a lot of American owners and trainers saw how big it was they would also come here. If I ever come back again I’ll make sure I bring one of my top horses. We were very lucky that the filly in the Queen Mary (Jealous Again) was just in top form on the day.
“It took a lot of talking to persuade my owners to come over because it’s very expensive. There are no supplements to come here, so if you’re not getting prize money it would be costly.”