Trainer John Gosden has hailed his Cazoo Oaks favourite Emily Upjohn as being in the same league as his first winner in the race, Taghrooda, after watching her work at Epsom Downs today at The Cazoo Derby Gallops Morning.
The unbeaten Sea The Stars filly is as short as 10-11 with bookmakers for the third Classic of the season, after following up victory on her only start as a two year old with wins at Sandown Park in April and in the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes at York earlier this month.
Gosden, whose training license is with his son Thady, has three Oaks winners to his name – Taghrooda in 2014, Enable in 2017 and Anapurna in 2019.
Asked to compare Emily Upjohn to the trio, Gosden said: “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. I know they were playing, if you like, coming down the hill at a half-speed but even the way she quickened today between the three and the two was impressive.
“She is a big girl and she was immature and wasn’t ready to run until later in the year.”
Explaining his reasons for bringing Emily Upjohn to Epsom Downs to experience the unique track at today’s Cazoo Derby Gallops Morning, he went on: “Frankie (Dettori, jockey) felt that for a filly who has had three races in her life it would be nice to come here and just have a look and feel of the track, which is all that you are doing as you are not trying to do any exploratory work.
“She behaved great, moved very well, got her leads right coming down the hill and quickened up nicely. I think she will come on a lot for that mentally. She 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.
“She has filled out well and she has rather enjoyed her morning out here. 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.”
Asked about his other contender for the Cazoo Oaks, Gosden said: “Nashwa only ran last Saturday and it was soon enough - it was a bit close to the race.
“They (Nashwa and Emily Upjohn) have never worked together and it won’t be my intention to do so. This filly is guaranteed to stay a mile and a half. With Nashwa the speed she has shown it wouldn’t be guaranteed she gets a mile and a half.”
Nashwa’s participation in the Cazoo Oaks also throws up the possibility of a first ever Classic success for a female jockey, with Hollie Doyle set to ride on Friday 3rd June.
Gosden added: “When Mr Imad Al Sagar asked me about Hollie two or three years ago I said she is a superb jockey that is very talented and horses run for her.
“She has an incredible work ethic. She reminds me a lot of Julie Krone. From my point of view she has been the ultimate jockey type and so I said it is a great idea if you retain her and he did.
“She looks at every detail of everything. She does her research properly and is a great race rider and if it came off it would be wonderful.
“You had a young lady win the US Open (tennis) and that captured the imagination in this country and anything to that extent like this is particularly positive for the sport. It has had an image of being a bit crusty and clubby, but it is not.”
Gosden also spoke of the huge opportunity racing has to reach a wider audience on Saturday 4th June, when Cazoo Derby Day forms part of the official Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
He explained: “There is no doubt that The Queen has been a huge supporter with a deep knowledge and passion for racing and breeding so to that extent to be here on Derby Day is essential.”