America's champion jockey Irad Ortiz – once fined for punching a rival – set to make Royal Ascot debut next month

AMERICA'S champion jockey – once fined for punching a rival – is set to make his Royal Ascot debut next month.

Talented Irad Ortiz is part of a star-studded team of riders for top trainer Wesley Ward.

Ortiz, America's top jockey for the past four years, was named alongside Frankie Dettori, John Velazquez and Joel Rosario in Ward's squad.


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Puerto Rican Ortiz, 28, will partner Twilight Gleaming in the £65,000 Windsor Castle Stakes on Wednesday, June 16.

It will be just his second ever ride in Britain, having finished runner-up on Acapulco in the 2015 Nunthorpe Stakes at York.

Ortiz has conquered all before him Stateside and amassed staggering career earnings of £149million.

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But for all his brilliance on the racecourse, he has sometimes courted controversy for his antics off it.

He was fined £700 earlier this year for punching rival Paco Lopez three times in the face after a heated race.

Ortiz was caught on camera walking up to Lopez, 35, and swinging a huge right hand at him.

He followed up with two more blows before security eventually brought an end to the bust-up at Gulfstream Park in Florida.

Incredibly, Ortiz, who sparked the melee, had won the race by 11 lengths.

That hasn't bothered top trainer Ward, though, who in 2009 became the first American to win at Royal Ascot and has since notched 11 victories at the meet.

He has assembled a crack squad of fellow top riders to land the big prizes for his American raiders.

Commonwealth Cup favourite Campanelle leads the line, with Dettori, 50, in the saddle there after riding her to Queen Mary Stakes success in 2020.

Recent Kentucky Derby winner Velazquez rides Maven in the King's Stand Stakes and Lucci in the Norfolk Stakes.

While Rosario gets the mounts of Napa Spirit, Ruthin, Nakatomi and Golden Bell.

Ward said: "I think I’m bringing some quality horses over. If you can win one out there every year, you’re really doing something."


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