Emily Upjohn primed for Coronation Cup defence

With a proven liking for Epsom and a solid return under her belt already this season, Emily Upjohn is fully expected to put up a staunch defence of her Holland Cooper Coronation Cup crown on Friday.

The John and Thady Gosden-trained mare was favourite for the Oaks on this card in 2022, but suffered an agonising defeat, failing by just a short head against Tuesday after stumbling and losing plenty of ground at the start.

The daughter of Sea The Stars corrected her Epsom record in this race 12 months ago, beating the classy colt Westover by a cosy length and three-quarters under Frankie Dettori.

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Frankie Dettori celebrates with winning connections
Frankie Dettori celebrates with winning connections (Steven Paston for The Jockey Club)

Mixed fortunes followed at Sandown and Ascot, and she had a 245-day absence to overcome when running in the Sheema Classic in March. Not surprisingly she needed the outing in finishing fifth, but all appears to have gone smoothly since.

John Gosden said: “She worked very nicely last week and I’m pleased with her. It was a very good run I thought earlier in the year in the Sheema Classic, where they played with the pace. I liked the way she finished her race off and she wasn’t beaten far.

“It’s not easy with fillies in March, training them in the winter, and she’d been off since the previous July, so she needed to get back on track. She ran a lovely race and she’s done well physically since then.

“This was always the next step for her. We are trying to follow the same sort of path as last year when she went on to Sandown for the Eclipse and was beaten only half a length by Paddington. I don’t know what happened when she ran in the King George after that, but about four of them ran appallingly that day. Take nothing from the winner there, but it was a very strange race.”

Emily Upjohn (red silks) was so close to winning the Oaks
Emily Upjohn (red silks) was so close to winning the Oaks (John Walton/PA)

Of her liking for Epsom and that narrow Oaks reverse, Gosden, who was speaking to the British Champions Series, added: “She handles Epsom well and was a touch unlucky in the Oaks, but that’s life.”

Emily Upjohn is set to be a warm order, with the Aidan O’Brien-trained Luxembourg next best followed by last year’s French Derby fourth Feed The Flame for Pascal Bary.

Ryan Moore rides Luxembourg and has a healthy respect for the opposition.

“It is obvious that Emily Upjohn is very much the one to beat here,” he said in his Betfair blog.

“She was probably at her best when beating Westover in this race last season, she shaped well enough in the Sheema Classic on her return and any drying conditions would just add to her chances.

“But Luxemburg doesn’t have much to find with her if he is on his A-game, although he has to bounce back from a modest run in Meydan last time, admittedly. He is a three-time Group One winner and, while his best form has come over 10 furlongs, he showed he stayed this trip when seventh in the Arc on deep ground a couple of years ago.

Ryan Moore with Luxembourg after victory in the Irish Champion Stakes
Ryan Moore with Luxembourg after victory in the Irish Champion Stakes (Donall Farmer/PA)

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“If the favourite can be beaten, I’d hope my horse is the one to do it, but I do also respect Feed The Flame, as he was very good when he beat Adelaide River in the Grand Prix de Paris last year. He is dangerous.”

The Westover colours of Juddmonte will be carried by the useful Harry Charlton-trained mare Time Lock, who was supplemented for the race.

“She’s a mile-and-a-half older mare and options are few and far between,” said Barry Mahon, Juddmonte’s European racing manager.

“We just felt it suited her programme well, it didn’t look like there’d be a huge amount of runners, so we just thought it was a nice fit and not too far from home.

“The track is an unknown, but she handles the undulations at Newmarket well so hopefully she’ll be able to handle Epsom.”

Completing the six declared runners is the William Haggas-trained Hamish, unbeaten in his last five starts but who has a definite preference for suitable cut in the ground.

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