Five Horses That Can Compete in the 2020 Classics
The UK flat season for 2019 has come to an end, and while the national hunt season will certainly keep us going over the winter period, there is reason to look forward to what 2020 will bring when the flat returns. As ever, the main talking points all revolve around the five classics that will take place, the 1000 & 2000 Guineas, the Derby, the Oaks and lastly the St Leger.
While we are some way off, plenty of people will have an opinion based on what we have seen from the two year old crop this season. Some guessing needs to be done as we are not sure how they will all train on and develop, but there are form lines worth looking at over the winter in preparation for what is to come.
Pinatubo the Stand Out Two Year Old in 2019
The best place to start when looking at horses who have impressed as a two year old in 2019 is to go to the very top, and that takes us to Pinatubo. A sign of just how impressive he has been is the fact that he is already an odds-on favourite for the 2000 Guineas, while also leading the market for the Derby in the hope he will stay.
It looks as though these two races will form his the early part of his season, the 2000 Guineas is a great starting point for him and then his stable are keen to try him over the Derby trip.
As far as his form goes, it is certainly tough to pick holes in it. He is unbeaten right now, with six wins from six runs including two at Group One level, with one of those having a winning distance of nine lengths in Ireland.
Perhaps the key to him is the fact that he has done things both ways up to now. He’s been impressive and forged clear of good fields to win and look great at the same time, while he has also worked hard on soft ground and really dug deep to get a win, something he did in his final run in the Dewhurst Stakes.
This horse has everything in the book regarding form, all he needs to do is train on well and not pick up any injuries. If he does that they he is going to be incredibly difficult to beat at Newmarket, and if he stays the trip then the same applies at Epsom.
Charlton Filly Quadrilateral Could Dominate Fillies Division
When it comes to the leading light in the ladies division, there is plenty of reason to be excited about Quadrilateral, although she may be the toughest one from this list to get right in terms of which races she targets, or whether she goes for both, which I personally wouldn’t.
Her run last time out, which was over a mile at Newmarket was one where she seemed to need every single yard of that trip. If she was mine, she would miss the 1000 Guineas all together, both in Ireland and England and she would instead head to either Chester or Lingfield for an Oaks trial. She looks the sort of horse that will be outpaced over a mile next season, especially in the Guineas, which is often ran at the speed of a sprint race.
The reason I mention those two trials in particular is because she needs experience. She hasn’t even ran around a bend in public yet, let alone tackle anything as difficult and complex as the 1m4f trip at Epsom. For experience ahead of the big day, it would make sense to send her to Lingfield or Chester, both tracks would really test her.
As for her form, she won the Group One Fillies Mile on her last start to take her record to three wins from three starts. She is clearly a filly that can perform at the highest level, but more is needed to turn her into an Oaks horse that can win at Epsom, and that will be the big task for trainer Roger Charlton as we move into 2020.
Does Powerful Breeze Have the Speed Advantage Needed for the 1000 Guineas?
If you like the above horse Quadrilateral then Powerful Breeze is another you should like, and she could be the one to go in the opposite direction to Quadrilateral in terms of the races she aims for.
I could see her sticking at a mile for the full season, she appeared to tire late on and was outstayed by Quadrilateral in the Fillies Mile. Should these two meet next season then I wouldn’t be surprised to see the result reversed if the race was over one mile again.
Something else I could see happening is Hugo Palmer getting this horse out earlier, giving her a run in one of the trials, perhaps the Nell Gwyn at Newmarket over seven furlongs just to sharpen her up a little, before going for the 1000 Guineas.
That would give her a fitness advantage, and a run in a race that is likely to be run at a very similar pace to the Guineas, giving her the ideal preparation for what would be her main target of the season.
Assuming she runs with credit, I could see her being a horse that had a big first half of the season, going for the Irish 1000 Guineas and then possibly the St James’ Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot after that.
Can Threat Offer Hannon 2000 Guineas Hope?
Is there a way to beat Pinatubo? It doesn’t really look like it based on all form we have at the moment, but one horse that could run a nice race in the 2000 Guineas against him is Threat, trained by Richard Hannon.
He won three races from six starts last season, including two at Group Two level. He was an early races for someone of his quality, kicking off his career in May with a win over five furlongs at Newmarket. He is clearly a very forward type, and it would really suit him being aimed at the Guineas if he came forward early again in 2020..
He has ran most of his races at six furlongs, although does have a seven furlong win to his name. He has been running in some very fast races, he should have no problem handling the pace they are going to go in the 2000 Guineas, whereas some of the stronger staying types could find themselves rushed off their feet.
On the face of it, his last run of 2019 was disappointing, only managing 5th in a six furlong Group One, but he did have an excuse that day. He was very slowly into stride and although he stayed on nicely, he couldn’t get close enough to the leader to land a blow, going down by nearly four lengths.
He appears to have the speed to run at six furlongs, but also the staying ability to just get home over a mile, that is the hope anyway. As an early starter last season, he should be ready for a trial race, with the Craven Stakes being an ideal target at Newmarket before trying his luck against Pinatubo assuming all goes to plan for him.
Is There a Derby Dark Horse in the Gosden Yard?
If you want a real dark horse for next season, one that hasn’t even ran at group level, let alone won a group race then you could do far worse than following Palace Pier, trained by John Gosden.
The horse ran twice last season, both over seven furlongs and both at Sandown. He was very impressive when taking them both, and looked destined for the step up to group company until a leg injury ruled him out of the rest of the season.
The horse is a shorter price for the 2000 Guineas than he is for the Derby at the moment, but with just two career starts under his belt and a fairly long absence to overcome, the Guineas could come too quickly for him, which is why I see him as more of a Derby prospect.
I personally wouldn’t mind him running in the Guineas, this is often a good Derby trial, but I think he will be a better horse at Epsom in June than he is at Newmarket in May.
There is nothing in terms of substance behind his form, other than to say that he could have won by a lot further if needed when running in both races at Sandown, and visually he really impressed.
It will be very interesting to see where this horse ends up, I would not be surprised to see him go to the 2000 Guineas, but looking at the long term, that could all be part of his preparations for the Epsom Derby.
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November 29th, 2019 by Simon A
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