Whatever happens to Daddys Lil Darling in the Investec Oaks at Epsom on Saturday the American filly will make history by becoming the first US-trained runner in the fillies' Classic. Harry Allwood looked at five American horses who have made an impact this side of the Atlantic since Wesley Ward struck for the first time at Royal Ascot in 2009.
By Harry Allwood
Strike The Tiger - Windsor Castle Stakes - Royal Ascot 2009:
Former jockey Wesley Ward created history by becoming the first US-based trainer to saddle a Royal Ascot winner when Strike The Tiger won the Windsor Castle Stakes in 2009. Sent off at 33-1, Strike The Tiger was having his second career start and did not see another rival as he made all to hold off the late challenge of Alan McCabe’s Fratellino. However, Ward’s success did not stop there as just a day later he gained another victory when Jealous Again ran out an impressive winner of the Queen Mary Stakes under John Velazquez who, in 2013, became the leading money-earning jockey in the history of horse racing.
No Nay Never - Norfolk Stakes – Royal Ascot 2013:
Wesley Ward hit the headlines again at Royal Ascot in 2013 when No Nay Never got the better of the Aidan O’Brien trained Coach House and broke the two-year-old track record in the process. Providing Ward with his third Royal Ascot winner, the son of Scat Daddy went on to land the Prix Morny over six furlongs on his next start at Deauville. His American handler described him as “undoubtedly the best horse I’ve ever trained” after his retirement was announced in 2014 and now stands at Coolmore Stud.
Undrafted – Diamond Jubilee Stakes – Royal Ascot 2015:
Frankie Dettori completed a Royal Ascot treble in 2015 when he guided the Wesley Ward-trained gelding to win the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Dettori also gained his 50th Royal Ascot victory aboard Osaila in the Sandringham Handicap. It had been 25 years since Dettori’s first Royal Ascot winner, which came aboard the Luca Cumani-trained Markofdistinction in the 1990 Queen Anne Stakes. Undrafted, part-owned by American footballer Wes Welker, made the journey over from America again in 2016 seeking back-to-back victories in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes but could only manage sixth behind Henry Candy’s Twilight Son.
Tepin – Queen Anne Stakes – Royal Ascot 2016:
Tepin became only the second mare since Goldikova in 2010 to win the Queen Anne Stakes in 50 years when she got the better of the Roger Varian trained Belardo, who had won the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on his previous start. She seemingly had plenty of questions to answer going into the race regarding the ground and whether she would handle the long journey from North America but came up the goods to give multiple Grade One-winning trainer Mark Casse his first Royal Ascot winner. Tepin won 13 of her 23 starts during her illustrious career, which included the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland in 2015.
Lady Aurelia – Queen Mary Stakes – Royal Ascot 2016:
Wesley Ward’s filly produced one of the best performances ever seen at Royal Ascot when she destroyed her opposition in the Queen Mary Stakes. She had previously broken the track record on the dirt at Keeneland when winning a maiden over four and a half furlongs by seven and a half lengths and was described by Ward as a “flying machine” beforehand. Sent off a well-backed 2-1 favourite, she duly obliged to make all and win by seven lengths. It was Ward’s seventh Royal Ascot winner and his third in this race after Acapulco in 2015 and Jealous Again in 2009.
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