Emily Upjohn set to have another tilt at landing Curragh Group One prize

Qipco withdraws sponsorship of 2025′s Newmarket Guineas and Ascot’s King George

Emily Upjohn wins the Coronation Cup at the 2023 Epsom Derby Festival. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA

The top English mare Emily Upjohn could finally get a shot at Curragh Group One glory in Saturday’s top-flight feature at HQ.

The John and Thady Gosden-trained star was famously denied what looked like a winning Classic chance in the 2022 Irish Oaks through travel problems that boiled down to a bird strike on the plane scheduled to transport her to Ireland on the eve of the race.

However, the Gosden team are now hoping to have another go at getting Emily Upjohn to the Curragh for the €300,000 Cairn Pretty Polly Stakes.

It will be the five-year-old’s first race at 10 furlongs since chasing home Paddington in last year’s Eclipse at Sandown. “The race seems like a good fit for her programme and the drop back to 10 furlongs should be fine,” said John Gosden.


It means a likely clash with another leading British contender in Bluestocking. Ralph Beckett’s filly looked all over the winner of last year’s Irish Oaks only to be nabbed on the line by an inspired Ryan Moore on Savethelastdance.

Bluestocking has yet to score at the top level but impressed when landing last month’s Middleton York by six lengths from Emily Upjohn’s stable companion Free Wind. She is as short as evens favourite with some firms for next weekend’s contest.

If the Curragh has a full sponsorship brief for the Derby festival action, British racing suffered a blow on Sunday with confirmation that Qipco has dropped its sponsorship of next year’s Newmarket Guineas races and Ascot’s King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Qipco is also reducing support for the British Champion Series from next year. The Qatar investment and development company remains an official partner of Ascot and plans to focus on developing British Champions Day.

Qatar Racing’s manager David Redvers said: “We wish to concentrate our focus on developing British Champions Day, along with our partnership with Ascot at the Royal meeting.

“We feel we have helped to develop the Series in the last 14 years and are proud that it has over one million followers on social media platforms and has delivered the Hall of Fame and Club 26, which recently celebrated its 10,000th member in just over a year since it was launched.

“We will continue to be huge advocates of British Champions Series. We are also proud to have helped Newmarket maintain the importance of the Guineas Festival during our involvement, which includes record prize money for the two classic races.”

Meanwhile, fresh from his memorable success on Crystal Black for his father Gerry at Royal Ascot on Friday, Colin Keane goes west to Ballinrobe on Monday for half a dozen rides.

He is one ahead of Billy Lee (42-41) in the jockeys’ title race and the reigning champion looks to be on a prime contender in See Me Through.

The in-foal Hidden Land won over hurdles at Downpatrick last week and the expectant mother-to-be has a shot at following up in a 13-furlong handicap.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column