Wesley Ward has confirmed his recent Chantilly scorer Maven an intended runner in the Markel Insurance Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood.
Having made a winning debut at Aqueduct in April, the American Pharoah colt travelled to Britain with the aim of providing his trainer with a third victory in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot – only to be declared a non-runner on the morning of the race on account of the rain-softened ground.
He was swiftly re-routed to France for the Group Three Prix du Bois – and after claiming a narrow victory, he has returned to the UK, where he is being readied for an appearance on the Sussex Downs on July 31.
“We’re heading for the Molecomb – that’s the plan,” Ward told PA.
“I think he would have shown up really well in the Norfolk, and it was a last-minute decision to scratch him. I just didn’t think it was fair to the horse – especially with him being by American Pharoah – to let him run in conditions that probably wouldn’t have been to his liking.
“It was great to see him win in France – it’s special to win any Group race in Europe – and it vindicated our decision to bring him to Ascot.”
Maven is set to be a belated first runner at Glorious Goodwood for the popular American trainer, following Happy Like A Fool’s late defection from the Molecomb in 2017.
Ward added: “I was all geared up to run Happy Like A Fool in the Molecomb a couple of years ago, before it poured down with rain and we decided to scratch her.
“I made it to the track, but unfortunately we haven’t had a runner there yet. Let’s hope for sunshine and good weather – and Maven will be there.
“It’s a beautiful track and it will be exciting to have a runner.”
It is a decade since Ward became the first American-based trainer to saddle a winner at Royal Ascot, but this year he failed to add to his tally of 10 winners at the showpiece meeting.
The horse that came closest to getting him back in the famous winner’s enclosure was Kimari, who was beaten a head in the Queen Mary.
Ward said: “It’s hard place to win, for sure, but I’ve had so many good days in Ascot – and you have to take the good with the bad.
“The Queen Mary has been good to me, and unfortunately we were narrowly beaten by my good buddy Frankie (Dettori, on Raffle Prize) this year.
“Kimari came home and is now back in Keeneland and looking fantastic.”