Linda Shanahan and Ice Wine Stable's No Nay Never, a graduate of Keeneland's November Breeding Stock and September Yearling Sales, put up a stunning performance at Royal Ascot today when breaking the five-furlong track record by a two-year-old in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes. No Nay Never won his career debut on closing day of Keeneland's spring meet, and is based at Keeneland with trainer Wesley Ward.
The son of Scat Daddy recorded a time of 58.80, bettering the previous best 59.17, despite a tardy start. Ridden by Joel Rosario, leading rider at Keeneland this past spring, No Nay Never was soon up with the pace and eventually ran out a length winner from 9/4 favourite Coach House, who was a head in front of Wind Fire.
Asked about his colt's slow start, Ward said: "He's like a bull and I knew he would push his way through, and while it was a little bit of a concern we'll take him home and work on that. He'll be better at the gate next time.
"I've always felt he's the most talented horse I've trained and he proved so today. He'll wait for other horses in a race, but I don't teach my horses to run away from the rest and he was waiting for the others to come.
"We put in a lot of time and effort. My staff at home work very hard from day one, when we start breaking them in October and November - they never miss a day. They are trained on a farm in Florida and then they go to another beautiful place called Palm Meadows, where they continue their education.
"Then they go on to Keeneland and everybody there has been so gracious. After their meet is over, they keep the turf pristine and they did a huge favour by letting us breeze on the grass. I want to thank them very much.
"I've spoken to the owners and what I'd like to do is get him home to Keeneland on Saturday, give him a break then bring him back for the Prix Morny at Deauville [in August]. I like to keep them under my own thumb at home and it's been proven that horses can come over here and win. It's a beautiful environment at Keeneland where we train and it's a very easy flight from Chicago to Paris so I don't think that will be a problem."
Ward has been visiting the Royal meeting for several years and this was his third success. Of the experience he said: "I'm not used to dressing this way and I don't even wear a suit at home, but I'll come as I'm supposed to come if I keep getting into the winner's enclosure."
Rosario said: "I am happy to be here and to have a chance to win a race - it's awesome. I thought that he was going to break a little quicker but he really stayed in the gate. He pulled it altogether right back and he has just taken me to the lead. He is a good horse.
"I tried to stay with him - I didn't want to rush him out - and he just put me where ever he wanted.
"I have to say thank you to Mr Ward because he has given me a lot of opportunities in the US and it's even better to come here with a horse of his."
NO NAY NEVER (USA) FACT FILE - TODAY'S NORFOLK STAKES WINNER
Breeding: 2b/br c Scat Daddy (USA) - (Cat's Eye Witness (USA) (Elusive Quality (USA))
Breeder: Jayne Doi Johnson & David Sparrow
Born: March 1, 2011
Owner: Linda Shanahan & Ice Wine Stable (Frank Antonacci)
Trainer: Wesley Ward USA
* Became trainer Wesley Ward's third Royal Ascot winner when taking today's Norfolk Stakes by a length at 4/1, setting a new two-year-old record for five furlongs at Ascot of 58.80 (previous record 59.17).
*Convincing winner on debut, making most of the running for a two-length verdict in a four and a half furlong Polytrack maiden at Keeneland on April 26.
*Non-runner in the five-furlong Rollicking Stakes on dirt at Pimlico on May 12, in which stable companion Sweet Emma Rose (runner-up in yesterday's Queen Mary Stakes) finished fourth.
*Part-owned by Linda Shanahan, wife of Coolmore advisor Paul. No Nay Never's sire Scat Daddy stands at Coolmore's Ashford Stud in Kentucky.
Race Record: Starts: 2; 1st: 2; 2nd: -; 3rd: -; Win & Place Prize Money: £64,509