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Triumph, Tussles and Thrills – Five of the Best in 2020

5 Aug 2020

We look back on five barnstorming races that set the belated 2020 Series alight

When racing was halted along with all other sports on 16th March, nobody knew when action might return to the racecourse. However, after a near three-month hiatus racing did return and the racing action certainly hasn’t disappointed.

Here we list off our five biggest moments of the year to date.

  1. QIPCO 2000 Guineas – Newmarket

The traditional first Classic of the season and the second race of this year’s Series got the season off to a memorable start. All the pre-race talk had speculated just how good Godolphin’s all-conquering Pinatubo might be.

However, this hype proved to be misguided as it wasn’t the champion two-year-old that was first past the post. Instead that honour fell to Vertem Futurity Stakes winner Kameko under Oisin Murphy for Andrew Balding.

The son of Kitten’s Joy travelled smoothly in mid-division at the early stages before surging through the field, passing Pinatubo and Wichita in the last 100 yards, to take the spoils and give rider Murphy a first Classic success. He also broke the track record on Newmarket’s famed Rowley Mile in the process.

2. Gold Cup – Royal Ascot

Style. Speed. Superior. Just three words you could use to describe the King of the Stayers.

However, despite his truly remarkable CV, heading into this year’s Gold Cup Stradivarius still seemed to have his fair share of doubters. But his performance that day, in front of a huge TV audience, put a lot of them to bed in winning his third Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

Frankie Dettori, Mr Ascot himself, looked cool as ever turning for home and kicked on the loveable chestnut two furlongs out. That kick was more than decisive, running out a 10-length victor and bagging his sixth Group 1 in the process.

Many will remark that the field was not the strongest he has, or will have, faced at the end of his career, but the manor of the victory was truly mesmerising.

Cue flying dismount.

3. Investec Oaks – Epsom Downs

A later than normal Fillies Classic on a blockbuster Derby/Oaks double-header Saturday was always going to hold it’s place in history regardless of performance. But regardless, a performance befitting of the unique conditions unfolded.

Love had been an elegant winner of the QIPCO 1000 Guineas a month previously and was well fancied to follow up in leg two of the Fillies’ Triple Crown.

A messy race, much like the Derby that followed, saw two market outsiders set a blistering pace. Ryan Moore, jockey of Love, initially looked troubled rounding Tattenham Corner but it became apparent that the pace could not be maintained by the free-wheeling front runners.

As the leaders backpedalled, Love showed an authoritative turn of foot to secure her second Classic by nine lengths – the biggest winning margin since the Series began.

Love vs Enable at York anyone?

4. Darley July Cup – Newmarket

A race featuring all of the key sprinters from the Royal Ascot Group 1s was always going to be a fiercely contested dash. However, the crown of being the number one sprinter in Europe would be claimed by a team that had flown decisively under the radar in the buildup.

22 year old jockey Cieren Fallon Jr, an undoubted rising star of the weighing room, was having his first ride in a Group 1. And boy did he make it count.  The talented jockey steered Oxted to the front two furlongs from home and pushed him out to claim his first career Group 1 win. A fine way to graduate from Champion Apprentice of 2019.

Trainer Roger Teal was also getting his first taste of Group 1 success and was seen sprinting after Oxted as he crossed the line. The affable Lambourn-based handler certainly didn’t hold back his emotions as he and his son Harry, Oxted’s work rider, basked in the glory of their victory in the winners’ enclosure.

5. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes – Ascot

The Queen is back! After a couple of races away from the winner’s enclosure, racing’s favourite mare was back where she belonged.

Another record that can be assigned to the 2020 Series, Enable faced just three rivals in her bid to secure a record-breaking third King George.

Rounding the turn for home, Dettori took the most audacious look around to see where his rivals might be coming from. The answer was nowhere.

Enable majestically stretched clear and secured a victory befitting of her boundless talent.

6. Qatar Sussex Stakes – Goodwood

The race billed to be the race of the season certainly holds that accolade as things stand. Seven runners, three Group 1 winners and one Group 1-winner in the making.

Pre-race hype had very much been about which 2000 Guineas winner was better – Kameko or Siskin. The answer to that question was arguably left unanswered as the older boys upstaged their younger counterparts.

A race that will in some ways be remembered for hard luck stories, was taken by Mohaather, a victim of a trouble racing passage himself.  Bustled to the back of the pack three-furlongs out, a remarkable change of gear saw him absolutely fly around the outside of the field to get up late on.

The winner looks a super talent and is now being targeted at what could prove to be an exciting Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO) at QIPCO British Champions Day.