Frankie Dettori’s remarkable final season continued on Friday as Soul Sister handed the charismatic Italian a seventh Oaks victory to cap an outstanding Epsom Group 1 double.
Lady Bamford’s homebred had jumped into the Classic reckoning for John and Thady Gosden with a smooth success in the Musidora Stakes having previously failed to handle the bad ground when a long last in the Fred Darling Stakes. While it wasn’t cut and dried that she would appreciate the step up to 1m4f, she proved her doubters wrong in emphatic style, swooping from the rear of the field to challenge the leaders Caernarfon and Savethelastdance in the final two furlongs before pulling clear for an easy victory. The favourite Savethelastdance outbattled 40/1 shot Caernarfon to take second while it was over eight lengths back to the fourth Mama Joan.
There was drama at the start as the winner’s stablemate Running Lion became fractious in the gate, causing her to get loose behind the stalls and ultimately be withdrawn.
“It means a lot – seven Oaks,” said Dettori. “It’s my second Classic in my last year [after 2,000 Guineas winner Chaldean]. It’s unbelievable. I just want to soak it in now.
“It was a bit messy at the beginning. I didn’t want to go too wide from my draw. William [Buick on Eternal Hope] stopped very quickly so I had to go a bit wider. I kept her balanced and she did the rest.”
For owner-breeder Lady Bamford, it marked a second homebred Oaks success following that of Sariska in 2009. Bamford’s Daylesford Stud bred the Frankel filly out of the Group 2-winning and Grade 1-placed Dream Peace, for whom she paid 2,700,000gns through Hugo Lascelles at the Tattersalls December Mares Sale in 2013. The daughter of Dansili, a half-sister to the Classic-placed Catcher In The Rye from the family of Classic winners Arctique Royale and Moonstone, has also bred the Group 3-winning two-year-old Dreamflight to Frankel.
“I can’t believe it,” said Lady Bamford. “To win the Oaks twice as an owner-breeder, it’s a dream. There was extra pressure with Frankie riding but what a thrill. He’s the best. I was so excited, I didn’t see it very well – I’ll watch it ten times tonight!”
John Gosden added: “It’s wonderful for the stud. They bred her – getting horses to this level is hard enough let alone winning a Classic so it’s absolutely wonderful for Daylesford and everyone who works there.
“The York race was steadily run and they sprinted. I was concerned that she might not stay but she did. She’s come virtually from last and Frankie had a lovely run down the outside. She’s shown a lot of class to win it.”
Soul Sister becomes the 28th Group or Grade 1 winner for Juddmonte’s Frankel. She is also the stallion’s second winner of the Epsom Oaks following Anapurna in 2019.
‘By God, did she quicken’
Earlier on the card, Emily Upjohn broke a 32-year drought for the fairer sex in the Coronation Cup with a scintillating performance for the powerful Gosden – Dettori axis.
Making her seasonal debut, the Sea The Stars filly produced a powerful surge from the back of the field between the three and the two furlong pole to sweep past the entire field. Westover chased in vain but Emily Upjohn was in a different class, eventually being eased down to become the first filly to land the Coronation Cup since In The Groove in 1991. Westover ran a fine race in second, pulling over seven lengths clear of the third Point Lonsdale.
“When I was in the stalls I was thinking ‘please don’t sleep today’,” Dettori said alluding to last year’s Oaks, in which a slow start did much to compromise her chance. “I had that memory inside me. The key is to get her to switch off, and she relaxed beautifully. She’s a big girl so I got her ready at the top of the hill and by God, did she quicken. And she kept going all the way to the line.
“She does feel better, she’s stronger. But a lot of it is in her mind, she was fighting herself too much last year – now she’s learning to relax a bit more and when she does that she’s very good.”
Also successful in last year’s Group 1 Qipco British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes, Emily Upjohn carries the colours of Lord and Lady Lloyd-Webber, who bought into the filly early last season, Jonathan Shack’s Tactful Finance and Stuart Roden. Although bought for a relatively inexpensive 60,000gns by Blandford Bloodstock at the 2020 Tattersalls October Sale, she is well-connected being out of the Listed-placed Hidden Brief, whose dam Hazaradjat is also the granddam of Derby hero Harzand.