Emily Upjohn made clear favourite for Oaks after winning Musidora
- Gosden filly shoots away from field and now 6-4 for Oaks
- Frankie Dettori compares filly to 2017 Oaks winner Enable
Many horses were struggling to quicken on the ground here on Wednesday but Emily Upjohn was emphatically not among them. John and Thady Gosden’s filly shot away from her field with a sustained burst of speed two out in the Musidora Stakes, eventually crossing the line five-and-a-half lengths clear of Life Of Dreams, and is now clear favourite at around 6-4 for the Oaks on 3 June.
This was a seventh Musidora winner for the Gosden stable and the record of the previous six in the Classic at Epsom a few weeks later is uninspiring, with the only three fillies that went on to run in the Oaks all beaten.
Everything about Emily Upjohn’s win here suggested she will be the one to break the sequence, however, as the step up to a mile-and-a-half is likely to see further improvement from a filly with stamina on both sides of her pedigree.
“A mile-and-a-half will be right up her alley and she couldn’t have done it any better, really,” John Gosden said afterwards.
“That’s probably where she’ll stay after this. She’s very well balanced but there’s no reason we won’t go to the breakfast at Epsom [on 23 May], have a canter round the track there and see how she handles it. She likes to show off and enjoy herself but I thought she settled beautifully after a furlong. We’ve been lucky enough to win [the Oaks] three times and she very much deserves to be in that league.”
Frankie Dettori, Emily Upjohn’s jockey, suggested the winner is at a similar point at this stage of her career to Enable, the 2017 Oaks winner, who went on to take 11 Group One races in all.
“The ground is a lot deeper than you think,” Dettori said, “and everybody was struggling from four out. I kept her together and from the two-and-a-half to the winning post I didn’t see another horse.
“Enable won at Chester [before winning the Oaks] and she was probably on the same par. Every race she’s improving, she won by five lengths and I’m delighted with her.”
Tuesday, who finished third in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket when making only the third start of her career, is the 4-1 second favourite for the Oaks while Charlie Appleby’s With The Moonlight, the Pretty Polly Stakes winner, is a 9-1 shot and the only other likely runner at single-figure odds.
Seven of the nine runners in the Dante Stakes at York on Thursday hold entries in next month’s Derby and Stone Age’s recently acquired status as clear favourite for the Epsom Classic may be under threat if one of them can register a convincing success.
Desert Crown has already shortened from 33-1 to 6-1 second-favourite for the Derby in the past 10 days without leaving Newmarket, as other potential candidates have come up short in their trials.
El Bodegon, meanwhile, beat Stone Age in a Group One at St Cloud in October, and both Magisterial, a maiden winner at Leicester last month, and Aidan O’Brien’s Bluegrass also have the right profile to jump towards the top of the ante-post market with a victory.
Desert Crown (3.35), however, already looks like more than a talking horse, as his winning time in a five-and-a-half length stroll on debut at Nottingham last November marked him down as Group-class colt in the making. Odds of around 3-1 look fair for Sir Michael Stoute’s colt to punch his ticket to Epsom.
York 1.50 Copper Knight is going for his third straight success in this race but needs a career-best at the age of eight to win off 104, so Strong Power makes more appeal at around 12-1. Much improved on the all-weather this winter after joining Alice Haynes, he raced off 95 on his latest start in early April but runs off his 8lb lower turf mark here.
Salisbury 2.05 Teumessias Fox starts out in handicaps on a mark of 84 and that looks workable based on his wide-margin success at Newcastle in early March.
York 2.25 Little to choose between the three principals – Thunder Kiss, Noon Star and Ville De Grace – but the latter’s success in the Group Three Pride Stakes in October came in a strongly run contest and she may just have the edge at this trip.
York 3.00 La Trinidad rarely runs a bad race in big-field handicaps over this track and trip, and a return to the form of his victory in a similar contest last July – off a 4lb lower mark – could well be enough for a third career win on the Knavesmire.
York 4.10 Boonie looked to be an improved performer when scoring on his three-year-old debut at Nottingham last month and could have too much speed for King Of Bavaria, the favourite, who is dropping back in trip.