American Fingerprints on British-Trained Royal Ascot-Bound Inquisitively

Ollie Sangster, aboard Wesley Ward's first Royal Ascot winner Strike the Tiger, accompanies Ward's Windsor Castle entrant Ruthin (GB) in 2021 | Emma Berry photo

Typically, the names Sangster, Manton, Tattersalls, and British-bred runner at Windsor don't scream `American connections,' but in the case of Inquisitively (GB) (Ten Sovereigns {Ire}), peel back the onion a bit and you'll find more than a few stars and stripes among the connections.

Inquisitively, a barely-beaten second at Windsor in his May 29 debut, is entered in Wednesday's Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot, and will carry his owners' hopes as well as a bit of history on his back.

Inquisitively sold for 40,000gns euros at the 2022 Tattersalls October yearling sale from the Glenvale Stud consignment to trainer Ollie Sangster.

“He was a very nice yearling,” said Sangster. “It's easy to say that now. Flash Conroy had bought him as a foal, and he actually had a setback the week before the yearling sale, and was lame at the sale. But he was a very nice model and I know Flash and I liked the horse, so I bought the horse under the condition that if I wasn't happy, they would take him back. But the issue was something of a nothing, something he had done right before the sale, and in a few weeks would right itself. In that respect, he's a horse I never would have been able to afford working with a limited budget, and I was able to buy a much nicer physical that I would have been able to buy.”

American bloodstock agent Justin Casse was at the sale, and had inspected Inquisitively, and also had liked him, but left before Book 2.

“He looked like a very precocious type, great hind quarter, good balance, a very good mover,” said Casse. “And Flash is a tremendous judge with whom I've had a bit of luck. He's actually who I bought (G1 Fillies Mile winner) Pretty Gorgeous from.

He was a nice horse and I thought there was value there. And I'm trying to align myself with young people in the industry who I know who have spent time with great trainers or who have learned from the right people.”

So Casse called Sangster and offered to buy half of the horse from him.

In Sangster's case, those great trainers and right people included Wesley Ward, the first American trainer to ever saddle a winner at Royal Ascot, and who has dominated there in recent years, winning 12 races. Sangster spent several formative years with Ward, working at Keeneland in the spring, taking his Ascot horses over, and then coming back with Ward to Saratoga. He has helped Ward out at every Ascot since 2018.

The family connection between the Casses and the Sangsters goes back even further. Justin's father Norman Casse was the breeder of Beldale Ball, who won the 1980 Melbourne Cup for Sangster's grandfather Robert, and he considered it one of his greatest breeding achievements, said Justin, who was born the year of the win and keeps the plaque given to his father for the achievement hanging in his office today.

“To me, the whole thing is interesting,” said Casse. “I've traveled all over the world. I've won the richest race in South Africa. I've won a Group 2 in Australia. And all these things have come full circle in my life to this connection between young Ollie Sangster and my father who has passed away, and our families, and is still going on. And here we are. We have American connections through Australian connections to running at Ascot and it really is a dream come true. My first experience at Ascot, literally the first race on the first day of the first time I was at Ascot was Tepin winning.” Tepin, who won the 2017 G1 Queen Anne S., was trained by Justin's brother Mark. “That experience was extremely special and continues to grow in significance,” he said.

But if Inquisitively isn't quite Tepin, at least not yet, Sangster is serious about giving him a chance.

“His first start was particularly pleasing because he had a very difficult draw,” he said. “Windsor has a bend in the track and he had drawn 14 and had to move a good few lengths to get across, and did the hard work at the front that day. If he had had a nicer draw, he would have won the race nicely. It was visually quite impressive, the times were good and and subsequently the third and fourth finishers out of that race have won their next start. That has confirmed what the times were showing us. He deserves to have a chance there, and the winner of the race (Chief Mankato {GB} {Sioux Nation}) is going to Ascot himself.”

Sangster will also be the trainer of record for Bledsoe (Iqbaal), who Wesley Ward trained to win the opening race of the spring meet at Keeneland. Ward is also the horse's owner and breeder, and owns and stands his sire. Sangster said that Bledsoe arrived at his training center, Manton, in April with the intention of getting a prep in, and while that hadn't worked out, he'll now go into the Windsor Castle off the Keeneland maiden win.

Sangster said he realized how special it was to have two starters at the meet in his first year of training.

“I think Inquisitively is about 25-1, but if someone had asked me at the beginning of the year what my chances of getting to Ascot were this year, they would have been significantly longer!” he said. “It means everything. The reason we get up at the crack of dawn is to have the winners, and hopefully–not that I've had it yet–but a winner on a big stage. We're a close-knit team, and everyone works really hard, and we're looking forward to having a runner. I think we have a little bit of an each-way chance and it's exciting. Hopefully a few people will notice us.”

Casse said it was hard to imagine how emotional a win would be for him.

“You can't put a price on these experiences even though we try to regularly through the auction ring or private sales. But that doesn't always mean that you're going to get there. So I'm just going to try to make the most of it. And listen, leading into the race, the horse is training well against winners. He has not really put a foot wrong to this point. And from the videos that Ollie sends us, I really couldn't be happier. And then of course, these other horses winning flatters our form. So although I think we're going to go in there probably 25 or 30-1, I just get the feeling that we're going to run a big race.”

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