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Future Champions Festival Shakes Up 2021 Classic Betting

"Newmarket grandstand" (CC BY 2.0) by Florian Christoph

Newmarket is the headquarters of British Flat horse racing with good reason, given the number of Group races which take place on its Rowley Mile and July courses. The two-day Future Champions Festival in the autumn during October always throws up clues for punters looking ahead to the following spring’s Classics as top two-year-olds take to the track.

The Group 1 races from that meeting, the Fillies’ Mile and Dewhurst Stakes, are among the best trials for the next year’s 1000 Guineas and 2000 Guineas respectively. Bookmakers are well aware of this, but it isn’t necessarily the winners to take out of
these Newmarket events.

For evidence of that, look no further than the 2019 Fillies’ Mile. While Quadrilateral won the race, it was Love back in third who trained on better the following season after landing a Classic double in the Guineas and The Oaks at Epsom.

In the 2020 running, Pretty Gorgeous reversed Irish Champions Weekend form from The Curragh after returning to a softer surface. Joseph O’Brien has now trained two of the last three Fillies’ Mile winners, and this one is now favourite for the 2021 1000 Guineas.
It is a young but talented team behind Pretty Gorgeous, a daughter of Lawman. Some give in the ground looks the key to her with up-and-coming Irish jockey Shane Crosse enjoying his maiden Group 1 in the saddle.

Pretty Gorgeous held the staying on Indigo Girl from the John Gosden stable by half-a-length to win. George Strawbridge’s daughter of Dubawi might be better suited by stepping up in trip for The Oaks on her pedigree with her dam winning a Group 1 over a mile-and-a-half.

The Dewhurst Stakes, meanwhile, usually crowns the champion juvenile colt because of the prestigious roll of honour attached to the race. Mill Reef, Nijinsky, Rock Of Gibraltar, Shamardal, Sir Percy, Teofilo, New Approach and Frankel are among its most famous winners.
In the Dewhurst this year, the Aidan O’Brien trained St Mark’s Basilica made a marked improvement on past form. Like Pretty Gorgeous, he was able to turn the tables on rivals from Irish Champions Weekend running on for a three-quarters of a length victory over stablemate Wembley.

The Rowley Mile” by Alarnsen (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Again, soft ground appears important to the son of Siyouni who is one three horses made 8/1 co-favourites in next year’s 2000 Guineas betting odds from MansionBet alongside stable companion Battleground and National Stakes hero Thunder Moon.

Such a market at this stage, some six months or so out from the Guineas Weekend, suggest the first Classic of 2021 is more open than recent years. A setback in his training kept Battleground away from the Future Champions Festival and the tail end of his juvenile season.

The 2000 Guineas picture becomes clearer still after the Vertem Futurity Trophy, run at Doncaster towards the end of October. That Group 1 contest over the straight mile has also proved a useful Classic trial in recent years, so the ante-post market will develop further before 2020 is out.

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