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2015 Royal Ascot: Hootenanny spearheads strong team for USA-based Ward

Top American trainer Wesley Ward has assembled a strong team of 10 for Royal Ascot, spearheaded by the brilliant Hootenanny who is 9/2 joint second-favourite with Coral to land the inaugural running of the Commonwealth Cup.

Ward become the first USA-based trainer in history to saddle a winner at the Royal meeting when Strike The Tiger landed the Windsor Castle Stakes in 2009.

He then struck gold again the following day when Jealous Again won the Queen Mary in runaway style, and has since taken his tally at the five-day spectacular to four courtesy of No Nay Never in the 2013 running of the Norfolk Stakes and Hootenanny in last year’s Windsor Castle Stakes.

Hootenanny is undoubtedly the star of his team, and looked as good as ever on seasonal reappearance at Keeneland when quickening clear to register a facile 6 1/4 length success in an extended 5f allowance contest.

The colt has now won four of his six starts, and his combination of speed and ability to quicken make him an ideal candidate for the 6f Commonwealth Cup on Friday, June 19th.

Ward also has a number of other interesting contenders, and his first runner of the week will be Finnegan in the Coventry Stakes on the opening day of the meeting (Tuesday, June 16th).

After finishing runner-up on debut at Keeneland, the Coolmore-owned youngster went one better at Pimlico when scooting home by five lengths and is highly rated by Ward.

He reports that the horse has raised his game to another notch since being trained on grass, and believes that he is a class act who has a big chance of landing the spoils in the Group 2 contest for which he is currently 7/1 with Coral.

Finnegan is one of a clutch of juveniles crossing the Atlantic for Florida-based Ward.

They include Back At The Ranch, who was second first time up on the dirt and then won convincingly at Belmont and runs in the the Albany Stakes, and a filly called Acapulco on whom Ward is very sweet and set to contest the Queen Mary Stakes.