On Wednesday, a couple of exciting Graded races took place at York Racecourse, in United Kingdom, where the G3 Musidora Stakes saw an impressive victory of the Epsom Oaks favorite, Emily Upjohn. Before that, five-year-old Highland Princess scored the G2 Duke of York Stakes in front of some high-class sprinters.
Duke of York Stakes
In this turf G2, a slight surprise occurred as at the distance of six furlongs, Highland Princess (11-2) caught preferred participants off guard when cruising for her premiere Graded victory. Among nine four-year-old and older contestants vying for the purse of £140,000, Highland Princess had a great start, set the pace, and when Jason Hart urged her to quick up once more, the five-year-old mare did so with enthusiasm.
She subsequently extended her lead to 2 and ¾ of a length to bag the race in 1m 10.62s in front of Spycatcher (9-1). From a couple of joint-favourites, Minzaal (11-4) was the better one to secure third place.
Although Highland Princess placed among the Graded company in 2021, she’s never really had the profile of a sprinter star of the future, given the trainer John Quinn didn’t tend to give her some rest, in other words, to wait for her to develop.
Highland Princess recorded 12 starts as a three-year-old, additional 11 in the 2021 season, while in 2022, she’s already been out on four occasions when heading for the Duke of York Stakes. Of course, there was some form about her; still, Minzaal was perceived as the star in the making here, yet managed only third behind brilliantly going Spycatcher.
The other favourite, Dragon Symbol (11-4), looked fine when leading the pack alongside Highland Princess but unlike her, the colt weakened and trailed home in sixth.
The most important trial for the Epsom Oaks is held at the distance of a mile and two and a half furlongs, where five three-year-old fillies clashed for the purse of £125,000. In this G3 turf event, unbeaten Emily Upjohn (4-7) effortlessly fulfilled the role of a favourite after sitting in second behind the leader, and as soon as Frankie Dettori asked her to take command, it seemed there wasn’t anything easier for her.
The daughter of Sea the Stars scooted clear from her rivals to win in 2m 10.86s with the advantage of five and ½ of a length over second Life of Dreams (11-4). Two lengths back, Ching Shih (28-1) ran in third.
The John Gosden trained bay triumphed in her debut, then was very impressive in her seasonal reappearance, and because she only cemented her position as one of the best three-year-old fillies, she is understandably perceived as the main favorite for the Epsom Oaks.
Although Life of Dream delivered a fine performance in her debut in April, she was overshadowed on Wednesday by Emily Upjohn and needs to improve (and mature) to have a say in the Oaks against the favorite.
The rest of the field looked absolutely without the slightest chance when facing Emily Upjohn; still, third Ching Shih deserves another mention because she was at least improving in the final furlong and snatched up third place.
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