Five Flat races to watch in October

Palace Pier is a red-hot favourite for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on October 17.
Palace Pier is a red-hot favourite for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on October 17.

We are heading into the final furlong this Flat season, but October is still set to serve up some fantastic races, and Steve Chambers has picked out five Flat races that are set to end the campaign with a bang...

Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Longchamp: Sunday 4th October

We are used to seeing heavyweight battles taking place in a boxing ring, but on Sunday 4th October at Longchamp racecourse there will be an epic equine duel between two of the finest Flat talents in training. The new guard (Love) will lock horns with the experienced, dual-winner (Enable) in a real clash of the titans in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. While Love has burst into the limelight this season with some stunning performances that saw her win both the 1000 Guineas and Oaks on British soil, the Aidan O'Brien-trained filly will need to deliver on the biggest stage of all against her elders in the French capital.

Taking the superstar three-year-old on will be the 2017 and 2018 Arc heroine Enable, who is looking to record a magnificent third Arc success, and recapture the crown she lost last year to Waldgeist, when she could only finish runner-up. While Love hasn't missed a beat at the highest level this season, Enable heads into the Arc with some doubting whether she still possesses the vim and vigour needed to win Europe's most prestigious Flat race.

Beaten in the Coral-Eclipse on her comeback run by Godolphin star Ghaiyyath, Enable then roared back to form with an impressive five-and-a-half length win in the King George at Ascot. She didn't even need to get out of second gear to claim victory in the September Stakes earlier this month, when taking on significantly inferior opposition, but in Love she faces a rival that will receive significant weight from her in the Arc, and Love (6/4) heads to France as the favourite with Enable (9/4) sitting second in the betting.

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Dewhurst Stakes - Future Champions Day, Newmarket: Saturday 10th October

One of the most hotly-anticipated two-year-old Group 1 races on the Flat racing calendar, the Dewhurst Stakes is often regarded as the premier trial for the 2000 Guineas the following season, and the 2020 renewal is set to see the Guineas favourite in Thunder Moon, who has notched up a perfect two wins from two runs and looks to be a hugely exciting colt for Joseph O'Brien.

An impressive one and a half length winner of the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh in mid-September the son of Zoffany is set to head to Newmarket on October 10 to put his Classic credentials on the line. Around a 6/1 favourite, at the time of writing, for next year's 2000 Guineas, Thunder Moon is sure to come up against some equally as exciting colts in the seven furlong event. Chindit and Albasheer finished first and second in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster a couple of weeks ago, and they are both prominent figures in the betting, while Chesham Stakes and Vintage Stakes hero Battleground, who is second favourite for the 2000 Guineas, is also a potential runner in the Dewhurst at Flat HQ.

Cesarewitch Handicap - Future Champions Day, Newmarket: Saturday 10th October

There are polar opposites on offer in terms of spectacles on Future Champions Day at Newmarket on October 10, as while the Dewhurst plays host to a multitude of progressive, precocious two-year-olds learning their trade at the highest level, on the same card Flat fans will be served up the legendary staying test that is the Cesarewitch Handicap. It's tough to squeeze the Cesarewitch into the 'Future Champions' moniker, as the 2m 2f marathon is often contested by a host of seasoned, experienced handicappers that are often reverting back to the level from the National Hunt sphere, while the odd emerging stamina-laden performer can aim to land the coveted crown.

News that previous ante-post favourite Ocean Wind isn't eligible to run has thrown the race wide open and it's Nicky Henderson's Grade 1-winning hurdler and Royal Ascot runner-up Verdana Blue that sits prominently at the summit of the betting. But, at 10/1 the field, the Cesarewitch will offer a devilishly difficult punting assignment for punters with the likes of Revolver, Coltrane and Princess Zoe all potentially taking their chance in what is sure to be an entertaining renewal.

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Queen Elizabeth II Stakes - British Champions Day, Ascot: Saturday 17th October

Ascot plays host to the final Flat extravaganza of the season with British Champions Day attracting the premier performers from across Europe with a day's racing awash with top quality Group races. The Long Distance Cup, Champions Sprint Stakes and Champion Stakes are three of the prestigious contests taking place on October 17, but the standout attraction this year is the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

A Group 1 race open to horses aged three years or over and run over a mile, the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes betting in 2020 is dominated by the hugely exciting Palace Pier, who remains unbeaten after five runs and looks to be the next superstar off the John Gosden production line. Lowering the colours of Pinatubo in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, the son of Kingman then produced another exquisite display when winning the Prix Jacques Le Marois, and the three-year-old is an odds-on favourite to land a third Group 1 on the bounce.

Possible adversaries in the QEII include Pinatubo, who was last seen finishing second in the Prix du Moulin, 2000 Guineas hero Kameko, who is looking to bounce back to winning ways having struggled in the Juddmonte International last time out, and Queen Anne winner Circus Maximus, who could be the primary shot fired by Aidan O'Brien, as he aims to win the race for the first time in four years.

Futurity Trophy - Doncaster: Saturday 24th October

With the National Hunt season picking up pace, the Flat season will drift off significantly as we head into the end of October and Doncaster plays host to the final Group 1 of the season, the Vertem Futurity Trophy. Open to two-year-old fillies and colts, the one mile contest will see potential Guineas contenders look to end their season on a high.

Won 12 months ago by the aforementioned Kameko, who used victory in this race as a springboard to 2000 Guineas success at Newmarket, the Vertem Futurity Trophy could be the target by the Richard Hannon-trained Etonian, who won the Solario Stakes impressively at Sandown Park earlier this season, and now is as short as 20/1 for the Guineas next year.

A host of trainers will be targeting their star youngsters at the Doncaster contest, so it's certainly worth a watch on October 24, as notable Guineas clues will emerge from the Town Moor venue.

2020 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Odds

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