The 2020 British Classics in review

On September 21, 2020 by Tim Newman

The highlights of each flat racing season are the famous British Classics – made up of the 2,000 Guineas, the 1,000 Guineas, the Epsom Oaks, the Epsom Derby, and the St Leger Stakes.

These races are the pinnacle of flat racing, and it’s a dream for jockeys and trainers alike to earn a win in one of these famous old races. 

The Classics are usually great occasions for spectators, with thousands packing the stands to watch the events unfold, and punters eagerly examining the horse betting odds to find the best value.

Sadly, the coronavirus pandemic put paid to spectators being allowed into the venues, but most racing fans were thrilled that the races went ahead at all. 

With all five of the British Classics now done and dusted for this year, read on as we take a look back at each of them. 

2,000 Guineas  

The 2,000 Guineas usually kicks off the Classics series at the end of April or beginning of May, but since that was in the midst of the coronavirus-induced lockdown, the race was pushed back, eventually being held on June 6th behind closed doors at Newmarket. In the end, it was the 10/1 shot Kameko who stunned the racing world by setting a new track record of one minute and 34.72 seconds, consigning the unbeaten pre-race favourite Pinatubo to third place in a dramatic start to the 2020 Classics. 

1,000 Guineas 

The sister race to the 2,000 Guineas, the 1,000 Guineas is run on the same course over the same distance, but is open to three-year-old fillies only. This year it was held on June 7th, with the Aidan O’Brien-trained Love, ridden by Ryan Moore, storming to victory by a clear four and a quarter lengths. It was O’Brien’s fourth success in five years in the 1,000 Guineas, further proof if it was needed of the trainer’s immense pedigree.  

Epsom Oaks 

Similar to the 1,000 Guineas, the Epsom Oaks is open to fillies only, and this year took place on July 4th. And it was a familiar story in terms of the result too, with Love once again getting the win, with O’Brien as trainer and Moore in the saddle. She beat her stablemate Ennistymon to claim the victory, with Moore remarking that Love was “very impressive”, adding, “I think this filly is very special.” It certainly takes a special kind of horse to win two Classics in one year, and Love proved herself a worthy champion.  

Epsom Derby  

Taking place on the same day as the Oaks was the Epsom Derby, one of the showpiece events on the flat racing calendar. Serpentine was the eventual victor, earning another win for trainer Aidan O’Brien and a record eighth in the Derby. The result was somewhat surprising, with Serpentine having been priced at 25/1 before the race, but in the end it was a runaway triumph, with jockey Emmet McNamara earning a memorable win in his first Derby outing. 

St Leger Stakes 

The most recent Classic of 2020 was the St Leger Stakes, held on 12th September and it was Aidan O’Brien’s son Joseph who saddled the winning horse, as Galileo Chrome gave him victory and made him the second man to win the St Leger as both a jockey and a trainer. It was a memorable moment for O’Brien along with jockey Tom Marquand, who earned his first victory in one of the big five races. 5/2 favourite Santiago, ridden by the legendary Frankie Dettori, finished a disappointing fourth as Marquand and O’Brien earned their moment in the sun.  

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