Royal Ascot 2022: Racing's bad boy Ortiz needs some luck after week to forget

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Irad Ortiz Jr might be in the in-form jockey in the United States but his debut at Royal Ascot is not going according to plan
Irad Ortiz Jr might be in the in-form jockey in the United States but his debut at Royal Ascot is not going according to plan

By James Toney

Racing has made Puerto Rican jockey Irad Ortiz a multi-millionaire but he can't buy luck or a win at Royal Ascot.

American trainer Wesley Ward has tasted success at the meeting 12 times but his two big hopes for the week, Golden Pal and Love Reigns, both flattered under the bright lights of racing's most gilded occasion.

Ward's decision to dispense with the service of Frankie Dettori this week certainly raised eyebrows. No jockey knows Royal Ascot better and the evergreen Italian has provided Ward with a third of his winners here.

In contrast his selection of Ascot newcomer Ortiz - the form jockey in the USA - has not gone to plan, two stuttering performances on favourites further compounded by a five-day ban for careless riding.

There are few more divisive figures in American racing than the 29-year-old Ortiz, whose aggressive approach and no-nonsense style has earned him plenty of fines and enemies.

He once punched fellow jockey Paco Lopez three times and slammed Omar Hernandez Moreno across the course in an appalling act that earned him a one-month ban he was lucky wasn't longer.

Ascot stewards have already laid down their marker after his reckless ride on Love Reigns but Ward is keeping faith with his jockey as Campanelle bids for Saturday's showpiece Platinum Jubilee Stakes, part of the Qipco British Champions Series.

To be a three-time Royal Ascot winner is rare - even rarer is Campanelle's bid to achieve that feat in three different races, following previous wins in the Queen Mary Stakes and Commonwealth Cup.

“Frankie is my man and I love him, but Irad is swinging right now in the States – he’s the hottest in America, he's a phenomenal rider," said Ward.

“To have any winner at Royal Ascot is something, but if Campanelle were to win for a third time there it would be phenomenal and we are so excited for that.

“She’s coming here after a strong performance on her comeback at Keeneland, and if you watch that race what she did was pretty impressive. Six furlongs is her perfect distance and she loves Ascot. She’ll take to any surface, and that’s a big plus for her too."

In contrast to Ortiz, New Zealander James McDonald is loving his Ascot experience.

He won on Chris Waller's Australian sprint star Nature Strip in Tuesday's King's Stand Stakes and then obliged for British trainer Charles Hills, who is hosting Waller's horses at his Lambourn base, with a brilliant ride to claim the Royal Hunt Cup 24 hours later.

Nature Strip would be short odds to complete a double achieved spectacularly by Aussie legend Choisir had Waller decided to enter him in Saturday's £1 million Platinum Jubilee Stakes.

Instead he will pin his hopes on Home Affairs, who narrowly beat his stable mate in February’s Lightning Stakes, a race with a history as a key pointer to Royal Ascot success in the past.

“It was great for Home Affairs to travel with a horse like Nature Strip, as he’s a three-year-old colt and Nature Strip is an old gelding who has been around and so makes a great travelling companion," said Waller.

"This fits in well for Home Affairs, who is going to be a stallion once he leaves England. Running here he could make his value even greater than it already is but we’ll just take it one race at a time and I’ll leave that to the owners.”

Another Australian raider also completes the top of the market with father and son trainer Anthony and Sam Freedman booking sprint specialist Jamie Spencer to ride their hope Artorius.

“Hopefully Jamie can get him out of the gates a bit better and hold a spot a little closer. We went for him for a reason because Artorius is probably more of a seven furlongs horse, rather than a six," said Freedman.

"His last 100 metres will be excellent, but his problem is that he can give himself too much to do. He always hits the line hard and just needs to stay in touch."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting