Saturday June 04 2022, 12.01am, The Times
On the nod. It’s a simple phrase but an utterly exasperating one if it’s your horse’s nose that nods wrong. That was what happened to Frankie Dettori and Oaks favourite Emily Upjohn as they missed out by inches to Ryan Moore and the Irish filly Tuesday at Epsom yesterday.
One stride before the line Emily Upjohn’s nose dipped down in front but as her head lifted and her rival’s dipped down the position was reversed. The trouble is that was not the only nod Frankie and Emily Upjohn got wrong. They got a far worse one at the start.
As the stalls whacked open the favourite slipped as she leapt forward. In her recovery Dettori was pitched off balance and by the time the pair had got motoring they had conceded half a dozen lengths to Tuesday and her other nine rivals. “She slipped at the start and lost her footing,” Dettori said on returning. “She made up a lot of ground and was an unlucky loser. She should have won.”
But she didn’t, just as the horse who blunders at the first fence and fails in a photo doesn’t either. Jumping out of the stalls is part of this particular classic test. If you mess it up you pay the penalty and in this case concede the honours to an admirable filly, a terrific jockey and a quite remarkable trainer who in saddling his tenth Oaks winner was landing a record-breaking 41st British classic.
What’s more, Tuesday must be unique in that she was actually foaled on June 3, 2019, and so her excellent second in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket and third in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh were achieved when not in reality three years old. Beforehand she looked lean and purposeful, just as her full sister, Minding, did before she won this same race in 2016 — also ridden by Moore and beating a filly called Architecture, ridden by Dettori.
It was Moore’s third Oaks and twelfth classic and was a perfect example of his ongoing excellence. For while the favourite may have conceded lengths at the start, the two fillies turned into the straight side by side with Moore electing to go up the inside and, as Dettori opted to go wide, Tuesday was launched into a decisive lead. Emily Upjohn put in a magnificent burst to collar the leader but that final nod was an unkind one.
Sure, Emily Upjohn might win the rematch but this day belonged to an improving birthday girl, to a rider at the peak of his powers and to a horse handler who likes to deflect praise by heaping it on to others. “I’m delighted for everyone at Ballydoyle and Coolmore,” Aidan O’Brien said. “I’m very privileged to be a part of the team. Everyone puts in so much hard work. The record is for all of them too.”