2020 Classic ante-post tips – An early look at the betting for both Guineas, the Oaks and the Derby
With the flat season drawing to a close, we take a long-term look at the first four Classics in 2020 and provide readers with our early tips for the 1000 Guineas, 2000 Guineas, the Epsom Oaks and the Epsom Derby.
The 2019 flat racing campaign comes to a close this weekend, as Newmarket stages their popular November Handicap Meeting. Several burgeoning stars have thrust their names into the spotlight over the last eight months and flat racing fans have been treated to some truly memorable races at all of the most high-profile meetings.
There’s plenty of time to reflect upon what’s unfolded during the 2019 season. Yet, with National Hunt racing set to take over the sport of horse racing, this seems the ideal opportunity to look ahead to the Classic showdowns we have to look forward to in 2020.
We’ve taken a look through the betting markets for the 2000 and 1000 Guineas, along with the Oaks and the Derby at Epsom, outlining the leading contenders while pointing out where the value could lie for ante-post punters.
2020 Classic Ante-Post Tips
2020 2000 Guineas Betting
There’s only one place to start when discussing the opening Classic of the 2020 campaign, Pinatubo. After a perfect, unbeaten season, Charlie Appleby’s colt ends 2019 with the highest juvenile rating any horse has been handed in 25 years, eclipsing the marks legends like Sea The Stars and Frankel reached at the end of their first year of racing.
If Pinatubo trains on like many are expecting he will, then I don’t see any reason why he won’t win the 2020 2000 Guineas. However, at 11/10, there’s very little value in backing Pinatubo ante-post and there are a couple of overlooked challengers I’d like to draw your attention to.
Arizona and Mogul may sit ahead of him in the betting, but the Aidan O’Brien horse I’d be keen to back early in the 2000 Guineas betting is WICHITA, who was last seen finishing a well-beaten third behind Pinatubo in the Dewhurst. Prior to that defeat, Wichita bolted up in the Tattersalls Stakes on the Rowley Mile and was clearly doing his best work during the final furlong in the Dewhurst. Stepping up to a mile will certainly suit this son of No Nay Never and he could give Pinatubo something to thing about.
As could THREAT, who’s been vastly overlooked in the ante-post betting, despite an extremely impressive juvenile campaign. Richard Hannon’s Gimcrack winner successful carried a penalty to victory in the Champagne Stakes, seeing out seven furlongs very nicely. A slow-start put Threat immediately on the back-foot when dropping back to six in the Middle Park Stakes, but Hannon’s charge finished off his race nicely. Threat looked a strong miler in the making last season and I don’t understand why his current odds are so long.
2020 1000 Guineas Tips
The colts division may be dominated by Pinatubo, but the betting for next year’s 1000 Guineas shows just how open the fillies division was in 2019. I agree with the bookmakers in the opinion that the best Guineas trial could turn out to be the Fillies’ Mile, so it’s no surprise to see Quadrilateral leading the way in the ante-post betting. Yet, I find myself drawn more to POWERFUL BREEZE than her Fillies’ Mile conqueror.
Powerful Breeze broke slowest that day, but worked her way nicely into the race, hitting the front a furlong from home. James Doyle switched Quadrilateral right coming out of the dip and the favourite responded well to her rider’s urgings, overhauling Powerful Breeze in the dying strides to claim a narrow victory.
While she may have eventually succumbed to defeat, Powerful Breeze built on her surprise victory in the May Hill Stakes and looks to have plenty of improvement left in her locker. Hugo Palmer is a shrewd trainer who will know exactly how to handle his stable star through the off-season and this daughter of Iffraaj could be the one to beat when she returns in the spring.
Of those sitting at longer prices, Raffle Prize catches the eye and could be a big player if she steps up to a mile. Alpine Star is of serious interest too, but my second wager would have to be on DAAHYEH, who progressed steadily throughout her two-year-old campaign and impressed with a runner-up finish at the Breeders’ Cup, despite going off as the short-priced favourite.
2020 Epsom Oaks Tips
2019 Oaks winner, Anapurna didn’t make her debut until December 2018, so there’s a chance we haven’t even seen the winners of either Epsom Classic winner as of yet. However, from the evidence we’ve managed to gather during 2019, there are several who could progress into genuine Oaks challengers next year.
It’s very rare to see a juvenile of Aidan O’Brien’s win first time out, but that’s exactly what FANCY BLUE managed at Naas in September. This daughter of top Japanese sire, Deep Impact then came up against the experienced A New Dawn in a Listed contest at the Curragh in October and managed to get the better of her rival with a withering late run from the rear. There’s certainly more progression to come from this unbeaten filly and her breeding suggests staying a mile-and-a-half should be no bother.
Of the British contenders, BORN WITH PRIDE makes an interesting case for early selection. William Haggas pitched his filly in at the deep-end on debut, running in the Listed Montrose Fillies Stakes and this well-bred newcomer rose to the challenge magnificently, responding to pressure on bottomless ground to hold off Aidan O’Brien’s Peaceful from the front.
Out of the mare who produced Raheen House and by Born To Sea, sire to Haggas’ former flag-bearer and Classic winner, Sea Of Grace, there’s no doubting Born With Pride is bred to reach a very high-level as a middle-distance horse. She could be one to keep on-side when she returns at the start of next year.
2020 Epsom Derby Tips
Pinatubo again features at the top of the betting for the second colt’s Classic of the season, but I’d be very surprised if he progressed onto trips further than a mile. Kameko upset the Aidan O’Brien applecart when winning the rescheduled Vertem Futurity Trophy at Newcastle earlier this month. There were, however, a couple of Ballydoyle horses behind the impressive winner that day who will likely be pointed at the Derby, most interesting of those being MOGUL.
O’Brien immediately started this son of Galileo out over a mile when he made his debut, losing out to Jim Bolger’s Geometrical. A routine maiden triumph followed, before Mogul lived up to an extremely short price with a bloodless triumph in the Grade Two Champions Juvenile Stakes at Leopardstown. Mogul should improve significantly when he steps up beyond a mile and could even lead the way in the betting when the 2020 Derby eventually rolls around.
Such has been the Ballydoyle dominance in the Derby in recent seasons, I wouldn’t put anyone off backing a couple of Aidan’s horses at longer ante-post prices, with Innisfree and Royal Dornoch seemingly overlooked. The other trainer to have experienced success in the Derby in recent seasons is John Gosden and his big hope in the 2020 edition of this famous race could be ENEMY.
Enemy made a fairly inauspicious start as he locked horns with an odds-on Godolphin colt at Ascot, but Oisin Murphy’s mount warmed to his task nicely, eventually picking off the market leader on the run to the line. Although he’s by former top sprinter Muhaarar, his damn Prudenzia has produced many top middle-distance horses, including Irish Oaks winner Chicquita, so I’d be surprised if Enemy didn’t shape up into a Derby contender when the flat runners remerge in 2020.