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Thursday, 18 October, 2018

McPeek looking for better luck as he bids to make Oaks history

Abel Tasman (right): Kentucky Oaks winner will be a hot favourite for the Coaching Club American Oaks in which she renews rivalry with Daddys Lil Darling (left)
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Kenny McPeek is hoping his audacious British raid with Daddys Lil Darling will go smoother than his last trip across the Atlantic. The good news for the popular Kentucky trainer is that it simply cannot go any worse.

McPeek sent over Rosalind to contest the 2014 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot but she stumbled coming out of the stalls and unshipped Kieren Fallon after just a couple of yards. 

But McPeek is back in Britain and this time he is setting sail for Epsom with Daddys Lil Darling, a filly he describes as "really nice" and one he believes has a "really good chance" in the Investec Oaks as she attempts to become the first US-trained winner of the Classic. 

"You don't go to a gun fight with a water pistol, you better bring a machine gun. This is a really nice filly," said McPeek. 

Daddys Lil Darling was last seen finishing second in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs in early May and Saturday's test will be only her second try on turf. She is, however, the most experienced filly in the field as the Oaks will be her tenth start and her fifth appearance at the top level. 

"She has knocked on the door in Grade 1 races and she was fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies after being drawn in the 14 post," McPeek said. "We have been chasing that elusive Grade 1 win with her and we feel that timing-wise and distance-wise that everything is coming together for this. We figured we would take a shot.

"She was supposed to leave on the previous Monday but she didn't get out until the Wednesday. She was extremely fresh before she flew and she was as strong as I have ever seen her when she arrived. She had a really strong gallop on Saturday with my regular rider and then Olivier Peslier gave her a little gallop to get familiar with her.

"Since then we have been doing some minor stuff with her. She's locked and loaded and I think she has a big chance."

The demands of Epsom are different to anything she has experienced before but McPeek is confident she will cope with the unique undulations.

"The challenge at Epsom is very different as you have that run up the hill for the first few furlongs. It is really dramatic and the most challenging thing I have seen in a horse race.

"This filly is prepared for it. We have been able to gallop her up hills on my grass gallops. Will she handle it? I am pretty sure she will," he added. 

You don't go to a gun fight with a water pistol, you better bring a machine gun. This is a really nice filly
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