The Five Biggest Shocks of the Flat Season

2018: Five Biggest Shocks

The curtain on the flat season has nearly fallen, and with only the November Handicap left to run at Doncaster, it’s an apt time to reflect on what has been a magical, history-making season. From Enable’s Arc and Breeder’s Cup Turf heroics to Stradivarius’ Millionaire breakthrough, the flat has certainly given fans a 2018 to remember. Of course, no season goes by without some hiccups and surprises, and here are the five biggest shocks of the 2018 Flat season.

1. Alpha Delphini, 2018 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes

It was billed to be the fastest horse in the world’s defining moment, gaining vengeance from his defeat at York 12 months previously, but the Battaash bubble well and truly burst on the Knavesmire again. It was left to the northern contingent of Mabs Cross and Alpha Delphini to fight out a pulsating finish.

It was heartbreak for the Mabs Cross team, but adulation for everyone associated with Alpha Delphini, who was an unconsidered 40/1 shot but prevailed in a photo finish by a mere pixel on the click of the camera.

The north had yet again struck in their most prestigious sprint race, and while the shock of Battaash’s defeat remained in the air in the aftermath, nobody could begrudge how fitting the success was for Alpha Delphini and co.

It was Bryan Smart’s first top level victory since Tangerine Trees in the 2011 Prix De L’Abbaye and on a more emotional scale, jockey Graham Lee’s first since returning from a successful battle against depression.

(Credit Racing UK)

2. Billesdon Brook, 2018 Qipco 1000 Guineas

Cast your minds back to the blistering bank holiday weekend at the start of May, Saxon Warrior roared away to win the 2000 Guineas and many expected team Ballydoyle to double up in the fillies’ version with Happily.

History was made in the race, however not in the way anyone at the Rowley Mile. Unfancied chestnut Billesdon Brook, whose best form to date was a weak group three win at Goodwood and a fourth in the Free Handicap two weeks earlier, stormed to an al-the-way success under Sean Levey.

In the process, not only did she give trainer Richard Hannon a second classic success, but became the longest-priced winner in 1000 Guineas history at 66/1.

Racegoers were left scratching their heads to where that performance came from, with her beaten rivals including the dual group one winner Wild Illusion, and classic winner Laurens, who in fact caused the next biggest shock…

(Credit ITV Racing)

3. Laurens, 2018 Matron Stakes

On good ground, Alpha Centauri was nearly unstoppable. Nearly.

The grey had pulverised her opposition all Summer, and the Irish Champions Weekend was expected to crown her the Queen of the Mile division. But, just as earlier in this piece, a tough, gutsy northern horse had other ideas.

Laurens put up one of the most teak performances, as she had done all year, to fend off Alpha Centauri’s challenge to silence the Irish in the crowd, which many rarely do.

Her price of an unconsidered 10/1 was no doubt an insult, especially given she was a three-time, classic winner by this stage. Nonetheless, only a hardy few will have seen Laurens dethroning the Queen, and in turn, becoming one of the most durable and well-liked horses in training.

(Credit RTE Racing)

4. Masar, 2018 Investec Derby

The hype surrounding Saxon Warrior was raging. The son of Deep Impact’s 2000 Guineas win had already prompted many astute racing experts to declare him the first winner of the triple crown since Nijinsky. Oh how wrong were they.

Saxon Warrior wasn’t meant to be, Roaring Lion didn’t pass the extreme test, but under-the-radar Masar did, giving Godolphin their first ever success in the Royal Blue.

He was a 20/1 shot in the morning, and still only went off at a hefty 16/1 by post time, yet Masar powered away on the downs, to the delight of few racegoers who had a simple sum on him.

The race was one of the highlights of the season, and it was a real shame that shortly after, Masar was ruled out for the season with injury, and wasn’t able to confirm his Derby form against the stars that came out of the race.

(Credit Racing UK)

5. Poet’s Word, Prince of Wales’s Stakes

The final shock seems to follow a familiar theme to many: all the hype, no performance.

That was the case with the lacklustre Cracksman, who found the improving Poet’s Word too good on the day in the blistering Ascot heat.

While being a typical Sir Michael Stoute improver, many expected Cracksman to bounce back from another previous lacklustre performance. But it wasn’t to be, in James Doyle aboard Poet’s Word took heed of Cracksman’s tardiness throughout the contest.

Many undue names were given to Cracksman in the aftermath of the shock of being turned over at such a short price, yet a month later at the very same track, everyone associated with horse racing had a moment of realisation.

In the wake of Poet’s Word’s admirable King George and Queen Elizabeth Stake’s success, the penny finally dropped that Poet’s Word was a fantastic middle-distance horse in his own right.

(Credit NBCSN)

Free Bets & Offers

🚀 Bet £5 Get £20 in Free Bets!
Claim Bonus
🥊 Tyson Fury to win by KO/TKO/DQ @ 100/1! 🥊
New Customers bet max £1 bet on Tyson Fury to win by KO, TKO or Disqualification and get a £5 Live Casino bonus;' 40x wagering to release winnings; 3 day expiry. If Tyson wins, get the Enhanced odds paid in free bets; to be used on any sports market; cashed out bets excluded. Offer available from 09:00GMT on Friday 14th February 2020 and 04:00GMT on Sunday 23rd February 2020. Credit or Debit card only, minimum deposit £5. Geographical Restrictions and T&Cs Apply. 18+ | | Please gamble responsibly
Claim Bonus
New customers only. Sportsbook bets only, minimum odds 1/5 (1.2). Refunds are awarded as CASH, up to a max of £20 . Only deposits made using Cards or Paypal are eligible. Qualifying bet must be placed and settled within 30 days of account opening. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
New customers only. Min deposit £20 to £50 to get free bets. Free bets rewarded as 4 free bets that total deposit amount. Free bets unlocked when real money bets (min odds 1/2) totalling free bet amount are placed within first 7 days. Min odds 1/2, 2+ legs & expire in 7 days. Winnings credited in cash. Full T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
🌟 Bet £5 & Get £30 in Free Bets 🌟
New customers only. Deposit and place a £5 qualifying bet add odds of 2.00 or greater within 7 days of opening a new account; excludes cashed out bets. Receive 2x £10 free sports bets, valid on set events only at odds 2.00 or greater, expires in 7 days, plus a £10 casino bonus, expires in 7 days. Wager the casino bonus 35x to withdraw winnings. Credit/debit card deposits only. Geographical restrictions and T&Cs apply. Please gamble responsibly.
Claim Bonus
🏆£20 RISK FREE first bet at Paddy Power on any sports market - money back in CASH if your selection loses 🏆
New customers only, limited to one per person. If you’ve previously had a Paddy Power account, you will not qualify for the offer. Place your FIRST bet on any Sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £20. Only deposits made using Cards or Paypal will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply. Paddy's Rewards Club: Get a £10 free bet when you place 5x bets of £10+. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
🔵 Bet £5 & Get £20 in Free Bets! 🔵
18+ Eligible UK+IRE players. Paypal & some deposit & bet types excl. Min first £5 bet within 14 days of account reg at min odds 1/2 = 4x £5 free bets. Free bets valid for 7 days, stake not returned. No cashout, restrictions + T&Cs apply
Claim Bonus
Bet £10 & Get £30 In Free Bets 🚀
New Customers Only in UK. Min Deposit: £10. Free Bet up to £30. Credit/Debit Card deposits only. Free Bet credited upon playthrough of first deposit. Deposit must be wagered at 3/4 (1.75)+ Full Terms Apply
Claim Bonus
When The Fun Stops. Stop.