The son of Uncle Mo was posied to provide trainer Wesley Ward with a third victory in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot last month under Atzeni, only to be mowed down in the shadow of the post by Michael Bell’s The Lir Jet.
With Golden Pal’s juvenile allowance meaning he is likely to carry just 8st 3lb at York, Ward is unable to call upon the services of his regular ally Frankie Dettori – and hopes of booking leading American rider Irad Ortiz Jr for the mount have been dashed by quarantine rules.
The popular trainer has therefore decided to keep the faith in Dettori’s fellow Italian, Atzeni.
He said: “(Andrea) Atzeni is going to ride him again. Andrea says he can do the weight and I’ve been talking to Frankie and he tells me he’s going to give Andrea the instructions!
“Irad rode the mother (Golden Pal’s dam, Lady Shipman) in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint here at Keeneland – and having also finished second on Acapulco in the Nunthorpe as a two-year-old (in 2015), I know he was all revved up to go back for another go.
“Unfortunately, with the quarantine and everything it’s just not going to happen.”
Atzeni is unsurprisingly thrilled to take the mount once more, saying: “Once I heard he was going for the Nunthorpe, and he was obviously going to carry just over 8st, I knew they’d be looking for a jockey and it’s a very good ride to get.
“I know the Ascot form wasn’t really boosted with The Lir Jet getting beaten at Chantilly the other day, but if the ground had been a bit better at Ascot, they wouldn’t have seen which way he (Golden Pal) went.
“Looking at the horses in the mix for the Nunthorpe at the moment, it looks like a very competitive race, but on good ground my horse could run a big race under a light weight.
“My weight has been good this year and I’ll have no problem doing 8st 3lb.”
Ward is hoping to make it third time lucky in the Nunthorpe, following Acapulco’s runner-up finish to Mecca’s Angel in 2015 and Lady Aurelia’s nose defeat to Marsha two years later.
And despite the current quarantine measures in place to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, Ward has not given up hope of making the trip across the Atlantic to see Golden Pal run, before travelling to France to see his Royal Ascot heroine Campanelle contest the Prix Morny at Deauville two days later.
“I’m still hoping to make the trip. Adrian (Beaumont, of the International Racing Bureau) is working on it for me – I’m hoping I’ll be able to go to York on the Friday and then to Deauville on the Sunday to watch Campanelle run in the Morny,” Ward added.
The ebullient American is under no illusions about the task facing Golden Pal on the Knavesmire, with last year’s winner Battaash, July Cup hero Oxted and the exciting Art Power among his likely rivals.
Ward said: “Since Golden Pal came home from Ascot, he has been in fantastic shape – he had a breeze on the grass the other day, which was pretty eye-opening to say the least.
“We wouldn’t be taking him back to the UK just to see the sights – we’ve seen most of them before!
“I realise the magnitude of it – taking on the older horses with a maiden two-year-old is going to be tough, but he obviously gets a huge weight break and I think he has a great chance.”
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