Derby Festival 2023: Frankie Dettori rode a seventh Betfred Oaks winner on Soul Sister – the Frankel filly scored by a length and three-quarters from 5/6 Favourite Savethelastdance.
John Gosden, who trains the winner along with his son Thady, was enjoying a fourth Oaks success after Taghrooda (2014), Enable (2017) and Anapurna (2019).
Winning owner-breeder Lady Bamford previously enjoyed Oaks success with Sariska (2009).
Frankie Dettori told ITV Racing: “That means a lot – seven Oaks winners. Lady Bamford is a big supporter of mine and in my last year that is my second Classic winner – unbelievable.
“I have ridden two great fillies this afternoon – Emily Upjohn and this one. I just want to soak it in now!
“It was a bit messy at the beginning and I didn’t want to go too wide. William (Buick) stopped quickly and I had to go wide but I kept her balanced and she did the rest.”
Soul Sister provided both Dettori and John & Thady Gosden with a 13/1 Ladies Day following the earlier success of Emily Upjohn in the DahlBury Coronation Cup.
Dettori added: “Obviously Emily (Upjohn) was incredible and then in the Oaks she’s a good filly. It was a bit messy at the beginning and took us a bit of a while to get organised and I had to bite the bullet. I wanted to slot in behind Ryan (Moore, on Savethelastdance) but William (Buick, on Eternal Hope) was in there before me.
“I followed Buick and he dived very quickly around Tattenham Corner and so I had to take evasive actions and swing right. We got organised and sat quiet between the three and the one and a half furlong poles and then I was just hoping that if I pressed the button she would go – and she did go. She’s shown so much class.
“If I stayed on one more year, I may get close to Lester (Piggott)’s 30 (Classic wins). I’m joking! It’s incredible and I’ve had some fantastic rides. Emily and Soul Sister mean it’s two in the bag and we’ve one to go with Arrest tomorrow. I’m very excited about tomorrow, John (Gosden)’s horses are on fire as you can see and hopefully it continues tomorrow. We can’t change the weather and it is what it is. He’ll either like it or he won’t, but he’s definitely good enough to make a good account of himself.
“It is mental, I’ll be honest with you. I thought I had three good rides in the three Group One races, but to have two in the bag already with the Derby to go is crazy. I’m stuck for words, I’m sorry!
“She jumped good and then I was looking for somebody to follow. I didn’t want to be stuck wide and I wanted to get behind Ryan (Moore, on Savethelastdance), but William (Buick) already had that position. Oisin was out of the way so I thought the one to beat now is Ryan and William, so I parked myself behind William and tried to get my filly to relax.
“The pace was honest and as we came out of Tattenham Corner William just dived in front of me. She’s got very little experience so I thought that if I go a little bit wide I’ll at least have some clean air into the straight.
“I then had to avoid the other pacemaker so I had to go even more wide, then Connor (Beasley, on Caernarfon) came upsides me and I didn’t ask for my filly’s ultimate effort. I just bided my time and just before the furlong I asked her and it was in the lap of the Gods, but she went and there was a great relief!
“I was able to enjoy the screaming of all of the crowd and I couldn’t believe I’d won another Oaks! I was able to enjoy it and I loved it as I knew I’d won. Usually when you win the Oaks they give you an oak tree, the last one I got for Snowfall my dog decided to play with it and ripped it around the garden, so I could do with a new tree!
“When I passed them all I knew as I’d come from the back, so I knew there was nobody behind me. You don’t get many opportunities to celebrate like that – maybe with Snowfall who was 20 lengths clear – but all the owners are here and all the gang so to go home and say I’ve done a 100% job is great.
“I would loved to have been fourth behind Ryan but it didn’t happen. I have to ride my horse to suit the style of racing and I thought she wasn’t experienced enough to go through them, that would have been stupid. I kept it simple and that’s what we did.
“At the moment things are going well, but you can easily mess up in this game! Five months is a long time.”
John Gosden said: “She was about to get stacked three or four wide, so Frankie did the wise thing and took her back in and rode her with confidence, giving her every chance. I could see she was coming strongly but I didn’t know if she’d stay the mile and a half, but she did, and she stayed it well, which she needed. This last half furlong up the hill will find them out, but she stuck her neck out and she’s a classy filly,
“Her family are milers, but looking at her pedigree I saw Darshaan under the third dam, so I thought there was a chance she’d stay. I didn’t know until the two marker what was going to happen, but it was a strongly run race and she’s beaten two nice fillies, seeing it out well.”
“I think she’s versatile enough to go a mile and a quarter or a mile and a half. It’s great for her to win a Classic for the owners, who bred her at their own farm, and let me tell you, that’s not an easy game. It’s hard enough to get a mare in foal, let alone breed a horse like that.
“The Irish Oaks is a possibility at this stage, but it’s a bit early to say.
“Newbury wasn’t her fault. She hated the ground, and with that heavy ground in the spring I told Frankie that if she’s not liking it look after her. He decided to just lob up there and not ask her anything. She had a lovely day out. It was a piece of work, but she wasn’t favourite, which was good, and it benefited her enormously and it gave me something to build on.”
“Frankie is riding as well as he ever has. We had a cup of coffee before the race and it must have been a very strong cup of coffee, because he’s riding like a demon.
“I was really happy when he decided to drop her in and save ground. You can’t go three or four wide around here and expect to win, unless you are 25 lengths the best
“I was naturally concerned she wouldn’t stay as she showed a lot of speed in the Musidora, but she’s done it extremely well and showed a great attitude.
“She came out of the Musidora very well and the stud have been fantastic. I told Lady Bamford I wanted to run her here and she said ‘are you sure’ and I said ‘yes please, can I’ and the rest is history.
“The obvious race for her is the Irish Oaks, but I wouldn’t be frightened of any race at a mile and a quarter as she’s got the gears.
“It’s been a huge day, with Emily Upjohn winning too, and they both have fabulous owners.
“It’s my fourth Oaks, but we’ve had some bad luck in the race too. A few get knocked over, but it happens. It’s lovely to win such a fabulous race and it’s great of Fred (Done) to sponsor. It was a big move by him. He’s a brilliant man.
“Running Lion has never done anything wrong before – she’s a pussycat. She got her leg caught in the gate and cut it, so they had to take her out, and then she got loose. We’ll get her right and then take her for the Prix de Diane.”
Karen can usually be found glued to her computer or at the stables. Having edited several national magazines she co-founded Eclipse Magazine in 2008 after realising that many of her friends were nervous about going racing due to lack of information – what to wear, how to bet etc.
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