06/20/2013 4:13PM

Ascot: No Nay Never takes Norfolk for Ward


A trio of satisfying winners found the mark Thursday at Royal Ascot. American trainer Wesley Ward captured the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes with No Nay Never; Queen Elizabeth II’s horse Estimate was an exciting victor of the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup; and Jane Cecil notched her first win since taking over the string of her late husband, trainer Henry Cecil, when Riposte won the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes.

Ward, 45, became the first American trainer to win a Royal Ascot race when Strike the Tiger captured the 2009 Windsor Castle Stakes, and Jealous Again added to his haul that year winning the Queen Mary. Ward has been a regular Royal Ascot visitor ever since, and he was high on No Nay Never’s chances in the five-furlong Norfolk weeks before the race.

No Nay Never, a son of Scat Daddy owned by Linda Shanahan and the Ice Wine Stable, won his career debut April 26 at Keeneland by two lengths, and Ward began pointing him to Royal Ascot shortly thereafter. With Joel Rosario aboard, No Nay Never got away poorly in Thursday’s straight-course dash, but quickly moved up to vie for the lead, pulling away from several challengers in the final half-furlong to win by one length over the well-regarded Aidan O’Brien-trained Coach House. No Nay Never’s five furlongs in 58.80 seconds over quick-playing, good-to-firm grass established a juvenile-course record.

“I’ve always felt he’s the most talented horse I’ve trained, and he proved so today,” Ward said.

No Nay Never could have another trans-Atlantic trip on his agenda, with Ward mentioning the Prix Morny at Deauville in August as a possible summer goal.

Estimate, a 4-year-old filly making her Group 1 debut, was a very game winner of the 2 1/2-mile Gold Cup, holding clear Simenon’s strong challenge to win by a neck. Michael Stoute trains Estimate for the queen, who attended the races Thursday and was shown looking on excitedly as Estimate came home powerfully between horses under Ryan Moore, who won his first Gold Cup. A daughter of the German stallion Monsun, Estimate never had raced beyond two miles, but stayed on impressively after settling just behind the leaders in the Gold Cup.

Legendary trainer Henry Cecil died from cancer little more than a week ago, lending weight to Riposte’s win in the Group 2 Ribblesdale for Cecil’s longtime client Juddmonte Farms and his widow, Jane Cecil. The 3-year-old Riposte, a homebred daughter of Dansili making just her third start and first outside the maiden ranks, broke slowly in the 1 1/2-mile  race, but advanced into a contending position under Tom Queally about a quarter-mile out and stayed on strongly to beat Just Pretending by 2 1/2 lengths.

Juddmonte added another win later on the card, when progressive 3-year-old Remote, trained by John Gosden and ridden by William Buick, stormed home between horses to capture the Group 3 Tercentenary Stakes.