Sandown: “Supreme Traveller” Emily Upjohn The One To Beat In The Eclipse

Emily Upjohn | Getty Images


Looking at the history of the G1 Coral-Eclipse, it is clear that fillies and mares have had a hard time against the colts in Sandown's jewel. While the illustrious Pebbles (GB) managed to prevail in 1985 and Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) did so three years ago with the lesser-heralded Kooyonga (Ire) victorious in between in 1992, the list of beaten elite stars among the sex is extensive. It includes Time Charter (Ire), Triptych, Indian Skimmer, In The Groove (GB), Bosra Sham, Ouija Board (GB) (Cape Cross {Ire}), The Fugue (GB) (Dansili {GB}) and also Enable who was only second attempting a second success in 2021. Like the latter pair, TDN Rising Star Emily Upjohn (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) hails from the Gosdens' Clarehaven base and does so with similar gravitas to her predecessors on Saturday.

Already an unlucky-looking Oaks runner-up and easy G1 British Champions Fillies & Mares S. winner at three, it was at Epsom last month that the filly owned in partnership by the Lloyd-Webbers, Jonathan Shack and Stuart Roden really took off. Her display of brilliance in the G1 Coronation Cup, in which her blistering sectionals included a :10.52 from three to two out which proved faster than any produced in either the Derby or Oaks over the same course, distance and ground, surprised connections but the secret is very much out now where she is concerned.

That this plays out over the same course and distance over which she gained TDN Rising Star status when winning her novice by 9 1/2 lengths in April 2022 lends even greater weight to her credentials and William Buick is relishing the opportunity to try and extend his tally of three wins in this starting with this yard's Nathaniel (Ire) 11 years ago. “I rode her in a racecourse gallop and she feels great,” he said. “She  is a supreme traveller with a turn of foot and has all the attributes at this level.”


Paddington Following Old Trends

Ballydoyle has a rich history of winning this with 3-year-olds, with the late great Dr. Vincent O'Brien delivering four from that generation including Solford and Sadler's Wells who subdued the aforementioned Time Charter in 1983 and 1984, respectively. Aidan has followed on with a quartet of his own among his total of six, beginning with Giant's Causeway in the millennium year. Like the “Iron Horse”, TDN Rising Star Paddington (GB) (Siyouni {Ire}) comes here having taken the G1 Irish 2000 Guineas-G1 St James's Palace S. route and at this stage there is no way of telling where his ceiling is.

   Giant's Causeway was the winner of a thrilling renewal, which involved another class mare in Shiva (Jpn), while the other from the yard stepping up from those mile monuments Black Minnaloushe (Storm Cat) was a close fifth and possibly a touch unlucky a year later.

Ryan Moore said, “Mine is a straightforward horse and I've loved everything he's done this year. There are a few questions he has to answer and we'll find out tomorrow, but he has a lot of class.”


Gone West?

Tactics may well play a hand despite the fact that there are only four runners. Small fields do not necessarily guarantee a trouble-free race, as Kieren Fallon found out ensnared on the rail on the aforementioned Bosra Sham at a crucial stage in 1997 when there were five contenders. Step forward the third TDN Rising Star West Wind Blows (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}), a talented performer on his day who would not be a far-fetched winner of a race that might tactically suit.

He has the added advantage of Jamie Spencer and Ed Crisford was keen to stress that the in-form rider is key to the prospects of the dual Group 3 scorer. “Jamie understands the horse and believes in the horse. He understands how to be with him, as he can be a bit of a quirky horse in his demeanour,” he said. “He is channelling his energy much better after being gelded, which is helping him stay. Now it is just a case of climbing the ladder.”


Dubai Honour

Always on the cusp of a Group 1 win at home, the now fully-mature Dubai Honour (Ire) (Pride Of Dubai {Aus}) has gone the “Addeybb” route of the G1 Ranvet and G1 Queen Elizabeth S. Kept away from fast ground by William Haggas, Mohamed Obaida's 5-year-old showed what he can do on a lively surface in the Ranvet but it was significant that connections felt afterwards that they “got away with” that going. It is going to be hot at Sandown on Saturday and drying conditions may play against him, but the famous uphill climb to the line is always a help to horses like him.

“Australia was Dubai Honour's new beginning as a Group 1 horse and we are looking forward to his first run back in a Group 1 on home turf,” Tom Marquand said. “The stiff finish will suit him and it looks as if he might be better going right-handed. It's a tough race, but hopefully he can finish off with a bit of a rattle.”


Westover Takes Aim At Saint-Cloud

Juddmonte's Westover (GB) (Frankel {GB}) would no doubt have been a major player in the Eclipse, so anything other than a smooth win in Saturday's G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud can be registered as an upset. Staged 15 minutes after his G1 Coronation Cup conqueror Emily Upjohn's Eclipse outing, last year's G1 Irish Derby hero gets reacquainted with Zagrey (Fr) (Zarak {Fr}) who was 2 1/4 lengths behind him as they filled the consolation slots in arrears of Equinox (Jpn) (Kitasan Black {Jpn}) in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic.

Bearing in mind what Mostahdaf (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) did at Royal Ascot, that Meydan form is probably the world's best at present and it all points to Westover providing he is on best behaviour. He wasn't when blowing out in last year's King George, while his antics in the lead-up to the Sheema Classic might have compromised him there. “It's always in the back of your mind. He did in Ascot last year, but in Dubai it wasn't really the same as it was his first run of the year in a new environment and he was fresh,” the operation's Barry Mahon said. “Hopefully Ascot was a one-off isolated incident and he'll be fine on Saturday. You'd like to think he'll hard to beat, to be fair.”


The Supporting Acts

Two significant Group 2 races form the background to Saturday's feature events, with Haydock's Lancashire Oaks and Saint-Cloud's Prix Eugene Adam offering contrasting fare. Of the older fillies and mares assembled for the former, George Strawbridge's G2 Park Hill S. winner Mimikyu (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) stands out after her creditable second under a penalty in York's G3 Bronte Cup in May. Bidding for a 10th renewal for the Gosdens, she follows on from last year's Lancashire Oaks winner Free Wind (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) tackling Sunderland Holding's course-and-distance G3 Lester Piggott S. winner Sea Silk Road (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}).

Experience may not count for much in the Eugene Adam if Newtown Anner Stud Farm's impressive Gowran maiden winner Knight To King (Ire) (Kingman {GB}) makes the usual progress that Dermot Weld's 3-year-olds tend to from their debuts. The son of Gita Weld's G1 Irish 1000 Guineas-winning Nightime (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) holds a special place in his trainer's heart and it will be interesting to see how far the half-brother to Ghaiyyath (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) and Zhukova (Ire) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}) can ascend in the rankings.

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