Although UK flat racing is largely associated with long summer nights of June and July, the top-quality action on the turf continues until the beginning of October. By the time September rolls around, the 2,000 Guineas and Royal Ascot are but distant memories, however, there are still plenty of top-class events left to be run. We take a look at some of the standout events scheduled to take place during the latter half of 2020.
PINATUBO wins the Darley Dewhurst Stakes! pic.twitter.com/YPRtwaymNM
— Champions Series (@ChampionsSeries) October 12, 2019
In 2019, Charlie Appleby finally got off the mark in the Dewhurst with unbeaten Godolphin colt Pinatubo triumphing over seven furlongs at Newmarket. Going off as the 1-3 favourite, plenty was expected of the Chesham Stakes winner, and he duly delivered. Although he wasn’t able to continue his fantastic run at the Suffolk track, Aidan O’Brien has traditionally dominated this contest, winning four of the last six stagings. The favourite has also won in four of the last five runnings of this top-quality affair, with US Navy Flag the only recent winner able to buck this trend.
Four of the last five winners have also been unbeaten at the distance, so it’s strongly advised to focus on the seven-furlong specialists. Finally, previous Newmarket form is far from essential with only the aforementioned US Navy Flag and the iconic Frankel having previously triumphed on the Rowley Mile since 2009.
Vertem Futurity Trophy
The St Leger race rightly dominates Doncaster racecourse’s autumn calendar and the ante-post horse racing betting market suggests that we’re in for another pleasingly competitive affair in 2020. October’s Vertem Futurity Trophy is also one of the more notable contests to be held at Town Moor and it tends to provide one of the last opportunities for the two-year-olds to shine. Although last year’s event took place at Newcastle, this hugely enjoyable Group 1 contest is set to return to South Yorkshire later this year.
Ten of the last eleven winners of the race have started the contest in the top three of the betting, whilst trainers Aidan O’Brien and Andrew Balding have been responsible for four of the last six victors. Previous distance form is not essential, although punters should note that Newmarket winners tend to fare particularly well in this lucrative contest. The Royal Lodge Stakes has been particularly fruitful in recent years, although competitors who have previously prevailed in Curragh’s Beresford Stakes should also be given plenty of respect.
Mill Reef Stakes
The Mill Reef Stakes is another high-quality contest set to take place this September and once again, market principals have tended to dominate this race in recent seasons. Last year’s winner Pierre Lapin went off as the joint favourite, giving Roger Varian his first success in the Group 2 contest. The talented two-year-old followed in the footsteps of his half brother Harry Angel who had prevailed at the Berkshire track three years earlier. Every winner of this race since 2008 had started the day in the top three of the betting, so it’s strongly advised to focus on short-priced participants. Four of the last nine winners have previously been victorious at York racecourse, so runners who have performed strongly on the Knavesmire should not be overlooked in this one.
Pierre Lapin wins comfortably!
Joint favourite Pierre Lapin cruises to victory in the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes 👏 pic.twitter.com/Tr4Rk4zH2Q
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) September 21, 2019
Although the majority of fans tend to be gearing up for the return of the National Hunt scene, flat racing aficionados are still able to enjoy a plethora to high-quality contests during the final two months of the season. The Dewhurst, Vertem Futurity Trophy and the Mill Reef Stakes are just three of the standout events set to grace the sport’s autumn schedule once again.