Flat Racing Preview: Your Definitive Guide to the 2016 Flat Season

Pack away your parka, your Thermos and your triple tog socks: spring is here, summer is just around the corner and National Hunt season is drawing to a close.

And that means one thing: the Flat season – along with all of its customary glamour and glitz – is here.

Read more: National Hunt Vs. Flat Racing – What’s the Difference?

Here’s our essential preview for the 2016 Flat racing season: the big races, and some of the best-value antepost bets.

The big Flat race meetings

royal ascot

QIPCO Guineas Festival: 30th April – 1st May.
While the Flat season starts in early April, Newmarket hosts its official curtain raiser at the end of the month. The Guineas Festival features two of the five Flat Classics: the 2000 Guineas and 1000 Guineas.

2000 Guineas Trends

1000 Guineas Trends

Investec Derby Festival: Friday 3rd – Saturday 4th June.
The next weekend attention turns to Epsom as it hosts the next two Classics. The Epsom Oaks is the standout race on Ladies Day, but the following afternoon attention turns to The Derby – Britain’s richest horse race and the most prestigious race in the Flat calendar.

Royal Ascot: Tuesday 14th – Saturday 18th June.
The highlight of the British summer social calendar. Amid the buzz and pizazz that surrounds Royal Ascot that there are a number of important races at Royal Ascot, with 8 Group 1 races including the Prince of Wales Stakes and the event’s biggest pull, the Gold Cup.

Coral Eclipse Weekend: Friday 1st – Saturday 2nd July.
Sandown Park’s flagship weekend plays host to the Eclipse Stakes, one of the season’s most intriguing races as it allows the sport’s most talented three year olds to pit their wits against more experienced rivals.

Newmarket July Festival: Thursday 7th – Saturday 9th July.
Sponsored by Moët and Chandon, Newmarket’s July Festival is truly a champagne affair – the highlight of which is the July Cup, a race that features some of the world’s finest sprinters.

30 Jul 2014, Chichester, West Sussex, England, UK --- The EBF Stallion Breeding Winners Fillies' Stakes (Handicap), race at 'Glorious Goodwood' Goodwood Racecourse 30th July 2014 --- Image by © Michael Cole/Corbis

30 Jul 2014, Chichester, West Sussex, England, UK — The EBF Stallion Breeding Winners Fillies’ Stakes (Handicap), race at ‘Glorious Goodwood’ Goodwood Racecourse 30th July 2014 — Image by © Michael Cole/Corbis

Glorious Goodwood: Tuesday 26th – Saturday 30th July.
With 2 Group 1 races, 5 Group 2 and 6 Group 3s, the Goodwood Festival features a veritable smorgasbord of big Flat racing events and is watched by more than 100,000 racing lovers over 5 days.

York Ebor Festival: Wednesday 17th – Saturday 20th August.
York’s flagship four-day festival features some huge races including the Group 1 Juddmonte International and the rapid Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes. It then concludes with the Ebor Handicap – Europe’s most valuable handicap race.

St. Leger Festival: Wednesday 7th – Saturday 10th September.
The Ladbrokes St. Leger Festival at Doncaster holds the final and oldest of the five Classics. This four day event features other big races such as The Leger Legends Charity Race and The Doncaster Cup.

Newmarket Cambridgeshire Meeting: Thursday 22nd – Saturday 24th September.
Newmarket’s autumnal fiesta takes place on the course’s Rowley Mile course and features three Group 1s as well as the Cambridgeshire Handicap – half of Newmarket’s autumn Double.

British Champions Day: Saturday 15th October.
The day that the Flat season goes out with a bang. With a total £4.200,00 purse, Champions Day is the richest day in British racing and features the five finals of the Champions Series.

Breeders Cup Friday Thoughts

Flat Season 2016: Horses to Watch Out For

Midterm
The Derby may still be months away, but it’s only natural that punters’ attentions are turning towards Epsom’s big race. And there’s little doubt that Sir Michael Stoute is prepping Midterm for a crack at Britain’s richest race.

Betting on younger Flat runners is notoriously uncertain, but Midterm’s pedigree (he’s sired by 2001 Derby winner Galileo and his dam Midday won the Nassau Stakes for three consecutive years) alone puts him in contention. And the way he beat a 17-horse field on his debut at Newbury in October despite looking very gren only served to add fuel to the fire.

Galileo Gold
Frankie Dettori had a great 2015 even by his standards, winning the Derby, the Eclipse and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe aboard the glorious Golden Horn. And while he won’t be able to call upon John Gosden’s great horse this year, the recognisable Italian has earmarked Galileo Gold to step up to the plate.

Hugo Palmer’s horse won the Vintage Stakes last year and his owner has hinted that he’ll be aimed at big races across the channel, including the French Guineas and the French Derby, but don’t be surprised if he’s one of the leading names when the St Leger comes around.

Royal Artillery
John Gosden often displays his high-class maidens at Doncaster’s autumn meets, and last October Gosden’s colt Royal Artillery looked very good as he won by over two lengths at Doncaster.

Royal Artillery was a $450,000 purchase and a son of American thoroughbred War Front, so it’s clear that much is expected of him. It’s likely he’ll be aimed at the 2000 Guineas. Watch this space.

Out And About
The son of Australian horse Fastnet Rock, who was hotly tipped in 2005 for a stint at the July Cup but was unable to run because of travel sickness, Out And About did well to finish fourth at Newbury after keeping on into a fourth place finish on his debut. He followed that up with a win at Redcar, beating Colour Me Happy who won off a mark of 79 on his handicap debut two weeks later.

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Flat Season 2016: Jockeys to Watch Out For

Silvestre De Souza

It’s only right that Silvestre De Souza, last year’s Champion Jockey, is the current 6/4 favourite for this year’s title. The title frequently goes to previous winners – just two Champion Jockeys have won the title less than twice in the last 30 years – so the low odds make current sense.

After missing out narrowly in the previous three seasons, the Brazilian showed his class in 2015, riding 132 winners on his way to the Championship – including a notable win on the 50/1 Arabian Queen in the Juddmonte International Stakes. Never one to rest on his laurels, De Souza will be striving to improve further in 2016.

Read more: Silvestre de Souza’s 2015 Season in Stats (Infographic)

05 Jun 2015 --- Flat Horse Racing - 2015 Investec Derby Festival - Ladies Day Elbereth, ridden by Edward Greatrex, winner in the 2.35 Investec Wealth and Investment Stakes, at Epsom Racecourse. COLORSPORT/ANDREW COWIE --- Image by © Colorsport/Corbis

05 Jun 2015 — Flat Horse Racing – 2015 Investec Derby Festival – Ladies Day Elbereth, ridden by Edward Greatrex, winner in the 2.35 Investec Wealth and Investment Stakes, at Epsom Racecourse. COLORSPORT/ANDREW COWIE — Image by © Colorsport/Corbis

Edward Greatrex
The 17-year old Greatrex had a, well, great 2015, with 27 winners in 186 rides on the turf – showing a stakes profit of £15 over the season – and his mature race aboard Elbereth at Epsom showed technical prowess beyond his years.

It’ll be well worth watching to see if the young rider can carry his great form into this season.

Fran Berry
One of Ireland’s most successful riders, with more than 1000 winners under his belt, the 35-year old Berry will be first jockey for Ralph Beckett’s yard, but has made no secret of the fact that he’ll be making the most of his agent Tony Hing (who represented Ryan Moore and Richard Hughes during Championship-winning seasons) in finding promising opportunities on a freelance basis.

At an antepost 100/1 for Champion Jockey, Berry could be an interesting bet to lay option.

Andrea Atzeni
Atzeni’s position as third favourite reflects the fact that he may not be given the requisite amount of rides to win Champion Jockey, but it’d be foolhardy to discount the Italian, particularly after he left Qatar racing to be Sheikh Mohammed Obaid’s retained rider.

Under Obaid’s wing, Atzeni will enjoy the backing of Roger Varian’s yard – including being reunited with the King George winner Postponed. As a result, he’ll certainly be worth watching in the biggest races and especially in the St Leger Stakes, where he could be the first jockey to win in three consecutive years since Lester Piggott in 1972.

The 2016 Flat Season: Who’s your money on?

Which young runners have you earmarked to make a big impression? Talk all things racing with us on Twitter @myracingtips

Punchestown Betting Tips Tuesday

 

Header Image: Image by © Tim Clayton/Corbis

Glorious Goodwood By Edward Betts – CC BY-SA 3.0, wikimedia.org

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