Emily Upjohn and Nashwa give John Gosden a formidable hand in his bid for a fourth victory in the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom on Friday.
It took the Clarehaven handler until 2014 to break his duck in the fillies’ Classic, with subsequent King George scorer Taghrooda striking gold for the late Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.
Three years later it was the turn of the remarkable Enable, who came through a thunderstorm to register the first of her 11 Group One wins, while Anapurna made it a hat-trick in 2019.
The red-hot favourite for this year’s renewal is Emily Upjohn, who was a dominant winner of the Musidora Stakes at York and is all the rage to stretch her unbeaten record to four on the Surrey Downs.
“Emily Upjohn is not a filly who raced a lot at two as she only had the one run at Wolverhampton, but you can see by the size of the frame of her why we were patient,” said Gosden, who now trains in partnership with son Thady.
“I would hope she has got the speed for the Oaks as she has shown an ability to quicken. The other day in the Musidora she quickened well there at York.
“She did it well at Wolverhampton and at Sandown she sat very handy, then lengthened off the front. She has a change of gear.”
While stopping short of comparing Emily Upjohn to his dual Arc heroine Enable, Gosden feels the Sea The Stars filly is at least on a par with his first Oaks winner.
He added: “I think she is in the Taghrooda league. It would be silly to start talking about Enable as that would be completely over the top.
“It is her ability to travel and quicken over a trip that reminds me of Taghrooda.”
Emily Upjohn will be ridden by Frankie Dettori, who sealed his sixth Oaks success aboard the brilliant Snowfall 12 months ago and has high hopes of adding to his tally.
“I’ve ridden some great fillies in the Oaks and have been lucky enough to win three of the last five. It’s been a very good race for me and I ride a very worthy favourite in Emily Upjohn this time,” Dettori told Sporting Index.
“There’s been a fair bit of rain around, and even though it was quite slow at York I would prefer to have her on good ground. One thing I can’t control is the weather, so I won’t stress myself and we’ll just have to hope she handles it if it does get soft.
“She’s won three out of three and took her trial in great style, so she’s entitled to be favourite.”
He added: “She’s done everything right, and everything that’s been asked of her so far, but we’re now up against horses we’ve never met before.
“I know a bit about Tuesday as I rode her in the 1000 Guineas. I think she’s a very solid filly that will appreciate the step up in trip.
“Dealing with the atmosphere at Epsom is all part of the challenge. She’ll have the hood on before the start like normal, but I don’t see any real issues. She’s a young filly that is learning all the time and I don’t think she’s got a bad bone in her really – she just wants to please you all the time.
“All in all, John, Thady and I are all very happy with her – she’s in great shape.”
One of the biggest threats to Emily Upjohn appears to be fellow Clarehaven Stables inmate Nashwa, who has looked every inch a top-class filly in winning at Haydock and Newbury this spring.
The Frankel filly could etch her name into racing history if successful, with her rider Hollie Doyle bidding to become the first woman to ride the winner of a British Classic.
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to Nashwa’s owner Imad Al Sagar, said: “It’s exciting to be in such a race like this, with a Frankel filly and a stakes-winning filly taking on a Classic.
“We’re going a little bit into the unknown over a mile and a half, but she comes into the race straightforwardly, has had no issues since Newbury and has trained nicely.
“She’s drawn in the middle, next door to her stablemate. Like all of them she’ll need to improve a bit and stay, but it’s a huge race and it’s up for grabs.”
Doyle is quietly confident the step up in trip will not be a problem in this Qipco British Champions Series contest.
She said: “I think she holds a few more of the sire’s genes than the mare’s, which isn’t a bad thing. She has speed and class and gears, like Frankel, but she relaxes and she should stay.
“You don’t know until they try it if they will handle Epsom, but she’s a great mover and she hasn’t given me any feeling that she won’t. She’s a dream ride, with a lovely mind and a great attitude.”