A few Antepost bets for the Flat Season by Ciaran Taylor
Twitter : @littledarkone11
A few Antepost bets for the Flat Season
Social media has blown up in the wake of last week’s Cheltenham Festival not only for producing an
excellent week’s racing but also the celebration of some successful antepost bets, and it’s no big
surprise, with a handful of people receiving six-figure pay-outs from bets placed as long as 9 months
In placing any bet there is a substantial risk but today we’re talking antepost bets, where with so much
time between the bet being placed and the actual event the risks attached quadruple. In placing a bet
antepost, you’ve got to be prepared to account for any possible mishaps, whether that’s injury, illness,
wrong ground or the horse not even lining up on the day and if by chance, you get all the perfect
conditions and your horse goes there fit and healthy, you could end up drawn in the car park and stand
no chance, unless your name is Golden Horn and you happen to have a chap best-known as Frankie on
your back, but hopefully you’ll see most of this risk reflected in the price.
For a bit of fun, I’ve decided to give it a crack, looking at some of the big flat season targets, giving my
view on who looks a likely candidate and my rationale, with some of my selections adding more value
than others. Hopefully I can find some that could give me a run for my money...
Here are my selections.
Meydan: Dubai Sheema Classic – Mogul 3/1
In all honesty, I wasn’t always the biggest fan of this Ballydoyle colt; he was very much a hype-horse in
the early stages of his career and it’s hardly surprising given his lofty price tag and being a full-brother to
his highly talented stablemate Japan, but by Autumn he’d developed into a more than capable animal in
his own right. Firstly, putting up a massive performance when following in his brother’s footsteps to win
the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp, and doing so in a very good time. He then lost very little in defeat
when finishing three lengths adrift of the mightily impressive Tarnawa in the Breeders’ Cup Turf when
not enjoying the easiest of passages and making some interesting headway down the backstretch.
On his latest start, he cemented himself as a horse to be reckoned with, producing another huge effort
when winning the Hong Kong Vase by three widening lengths, in a very respectable time. As good as it
looked, I’m not convinced it’s the strongest form on offer - the second is a very talented individual but
he finished tamely that day, having pulled too hard over a trip probably a bit far of his best – but what I
liked is that I think he outstayed his rivals that day after what was a proper end-to-end gallop, and it was
a performance that came at the end of what was a very productive six months for the young colt, so it’s
easy to think he may not have been at the peak of his powers. Aidan O’Brien has always said Mogul is a
horse that really takes a while to come to himself, and throughout last year he was very vocal that there
was still more to come even though he’d already developed into a big “talking horse”. He’s a horse with
a high cruising speed and, with natural progression from 3 to 4, I think after a break he’ll be able to
reproduce the turn of foot he delivered at Longchamp and prove very difficult to beat for arguably the
best trainer in the business.
In this year’s Dubai Turf, he looks set to face a very talented mare in Chrono Genesis, in the colours of
2014 Sheema Classic winner Gentildonna, and last year’s French Derby and recent Saudi Cup winner
Mishriff. They are two very worthy opponents, and for all that the Japanese mare has looked brilliant,
the latter would have been my pick of the two but that looked a hard race last time out and you
wouldn’t be at all surprised if it took the stuffing out of him for this. For all the Group 1 success the
Ballydoyle team has had, this isn’t an event they’ve had as much luck in in the past, with just the one
win back in 2013 from the high-class St Nicholas Abbey, but I think they have a live candidate here in
their pursuit of a second Sheema Classic and at 3/1, he’s the one I’m siding with.
Doncaster: Unibet Lincoln - Brunch 14/1
With this selection I’m probably way in over my head, if you ask 100 people to pick the Lincoln winner
on the day, you’d probably get 20 different answers come up. Here I am, offering up an overconfident
selection several days in advance when the horses haven’t even been declared yet... Brave, if I do say it
I’ve sided with the ultra-progressive 4-year-old Brunch for the Michael Dods team who did nothing but
improve last year and arrived on my radar at a relatively early stage when finishing 4th up at Haydock in
late June. He was a well-supported favourite that day in what was a very useful handicap, with three
subsequent winners ahead of him, with Lucander (3rd) winning the Sky Bet Handicap at York and
finishing 2nd in the Cambridgeshire, and Angel Power (2nd) later winning a Group 3 easily at Newmarket
before adding an Italian Group 2 at the end of the season. Brunch was a little unlucky that day, not
getting daylight when mounting a challenge and wasn’t given a tough time once that chance was gone
but I’m not sure whether it cost him the race or not. What I do know is, is that it was a steppingstone
onto much better things.
He’s since won two competitive handicaps at York, firstly over 7 furlongs carrying top weight before
stepping up to a mile in the Sky Bet Mile Stakes. On both occasions he broke away slowly and by design
or not he was settled towards the rear of two decent sized fields (14 and 16), and he was still able to get
up, getting on top late in both affairs. The Mile run really caught my eye, having been nearly 10 lengths
off the lead (and around 5 behind the eventual second) at the top of the straight, he made gradual
progress widest of all up the straight under a heavy drive and managed to get up and win with
something in hand at the line.
That effort sent him up 6lbs in the weights and he had to carry 9st 7lbs at Ayr next time out in another
very open affair. Adopting the same drop-out tactics he again attempted to make up plenty of ground in
the straight and on this occasion just missed out by a head to the similarly progressive Johan. The
st and 3rd led the field that day suggesting they didn’t go all that much of a clip and Brunch
very nearly mowed both of them down up the straight, so he’s got plenty of gears even with a bit of give
in the ground (good-to-soft on the day). Johan looks set to reoppose here but is 7lbs worse off with
Brunch than on that occasion, having won impressively since.
Brunch has run twice since upped to Listed company and although he hasn’t got his head in front, he’s
not run at all badly. Firstly, dropped back to 7-furlongs he couldn’t get closed to a really good ride from
Jack Mitchell on Ostilio but he only finished just over 3 lengths 3rd in that event so was by no means
disgraced. And on his most recent run, in an even better event at Newmarket, he was well beaten by the
smart Godolphin animal Zakouski, on heavy going. We didn’t see the real brunch that day for whatever
reason, likely the ground but it was also another tough run at the end of a season full of huge efforts in
I’m banking on him being an even better animal this season and it’s a tricky first assignment, but he’s
proven he loves a big field and is the type to still be gunning at the finish. He’s by no means a certainty
but I’m more than happy to chance him at 14/1, having already beaten the favourite (3 1⁄2 lengths behind
him at York albeit giving weight) and has form that ties in pretty closely with the well-backed Haqeeqy
(direct line through Cold Front), so he’s by no means a longshot and my fingers are crossed for a good
Newmarket: 1,000 Guineas – Pretty Gorgeous 7/1
The next of my selections is actually an antepost favourite, and that comes in the shape of Joseph
O’Brien’s aptly named filly Pretty Gorgeous. A Group 1 winner on her final start, she’s progressed into a
very likable candidate for this year's early classic and it’s no wonder, with 3 wins from 5 starts and two
2nds on both other occasions.
Initially looking at this race I was more intrigued by a handful at much bigger prices, entertained by lack
of exposure, with the likes of Snow Lantern, Eylara and Saturday's Maiden winner Joan Of Arc all
catching the eye. But I’ve come to the conclusion that they’ve got plenty of work to do to threaten this
filly and taking natural progression from 2 to 3 into account, it’ll be an even taller order come that first
weekend in May.
That said, it’s not always a guarantee they’ll improve for age but the team around her seem to be
convinced she’ll be better at 3 than she was at 2, and there’s sound reason to believe it having improved
for every experience so far, culminating with a 114 RPR in capturing the Fillies’ Mile over course and
distance in October. That course experience will stand her in good stead and although Fillies’ Mile
winners don’t have a great recent record in the Guineas, I think this filly could follow in the brilliant
Minding’s footsteps and follow up here.
There is a slight concern that being by Lawman she’s not as comfortable on a better surface, and her
form also reiterates that, with her two best starts to date coming on soft. However, on the two
occasions that she did encounter a better surface, she finished runner-up to Shale when not beaten far
in Group 3 (second start) and Group 1 company. There’s little to suggest she didn’t act on it but it’s clear
she’s better for a little bit of give in the ground and she’s unlikely to get that in the Guineas. However,
with her current price, I think you’re getting decent value for taking this risk as she could go off half the
price is she arrives there fit and well on the day.
Epsom: Derby – Fernando Vichi 66/1
This selection is by far my boldest and most probably my least likely chance of a winner, but for what it’s
worth, there is a case to be made and I will do so as best I can.
Fernando Vichi is currently 1 win from 3 starts but only just failed to claim Los Andes on debut, missing
out by a nose after having plenty of work to do with a furlong to go. For all that the winner has
disappointed since, Fernando Vichi wasn’t overly fancied (16/1), so he seemingly defied expectations,
finishing with a rattle late and hit the line well ahead of Brazil, a full brother to Irish Derby hero Capri,
who is shorter in the market for the Derby than my selection and was well supported to make a winning
debut that day also. It’s well worth nothing that he was getting weight from his rivals that day with the
young apprentice Gavin Ryan aboard, so he was at an advantage, but the weight allowance makes up for
what the rider lacks in experience.
Fernando Vichi was then able to shed his maiden tag next time up, again getting Gavin Ryan’s claim,
bolting up at Leopardstown by over 3 lengths from a very likeable sort and a horse I hold in a very
decent regard in Sword Zorro. Sword Zorro led at a dawdle before trying to kick off the bend and steal
the race from Fernando Vichi entering the straight, and he had everything beaten but for a really
impressive acceleration from the son of Australia to not only catch him but put distance between
himself and the 2nd stylishly. Everything behind has gone on to bigger and better things but for Tabarly
who hasn’t been since, so the form stacks up well and it was a strong sign that he was ready for bigger
and better things.
On his last start he ran over the same course and distance when lining up in the Group 2 Champions
Juvenile Stakes. Again, with Gavin Ryan up but this time without his valuable claim he looked like he was
struggling from the get-go, having to be rousted along to hold his early position and trying to jump the
road down the backstretch. Unable to keep up with the early pace, he was forced to settle in the final
pair, which probably was a bit of a blessing in disguise, with it getting very rough ahead of him between
the three that came across and forced him to take a pull and lose any chance of maintaining his early
position on the rail. He was first off the bridle as the field swung for home, with the protagonists
beginning to get away from him. He couldn’t lay a hoof on the very impressive winner Cadillac, but he
demonstrated a willing attitude, staying on well into 4th place past the progressive Snapraeterea, while
fending off a tenacious Ides Of August and just about latching onto the tail of the smart Reve De Vol
with Group 1 winning colt Van Gogh a further 2 lengths ahead of him.
He wasn’t quite up to the task in that very warm Group 2 last time out, but he’d only had two
racecourse experiences prior to that, he didn’t disgrace himself by any stretch of the imagination and is
entitled to come on plenty for the occasion. Being a son of Australia, a very good Derby winner himself,
he’s likely to improve for age, and he’s in the hands of a very capable young Trainer in Donnacha
O’Brien, who trained his first Classic winner last year with French Oaks heroine Fancy Blue. Australia
sired his first Classic winner last season with Galileo Chrome claiming the St Leger, and I see very little
reason as to why this striking chestnut colt can’t progress and give him a very good chance of adding
Ascot: Commonwealth Cup – Nando Parrado 20/1
Nando Parrado first really broke onto the scene when winning the Coventry Stakes at 150/1 having
made a relatively low-key debut prior to that when pretty well beaten in a warm Newmarket maiden. In
truth he didn’t do all that much wrong, breaking from the widest stall, it took a while for Kirby to get his
mount settled and looked much happier when finding his feet at the head of affairs but was looked very
green again when the field hit the dip and wasn’t given a hard time after that.
He then did the business when rank outsider in that Coventry Stakes, not only winning well but doing it
the hard way too, up in the van throughout. Thunder Of Niagra (6th) and Lauded (7th) faired best of the
rest of those who tried to force the issue, with the Mark Johnston-trained colt finishing 6 lengths behind
Nando Parrado at the line. It was by no means a vintage renewal, with the suspension of racing at the
start of lockdown limiting the opportunities for these young horses to gain valuable racecourse
experience but it wasn’t a bad time on the day, as Hello Youmzain won the Diamond Jubilee just 1.8
seconds faster, with only 2lbs extra on his back later on in the day. He was still quite green at the finish
and probably needed Qaader to come after him in order to keep him on track but I like the way he went
about his business in the early stages of that race and he proved he had the stamina to get up that stiff
It’s also very interesting that since the first running of the Commonwealth Cup back in 2015, the
Coventry has been a very good source of Commonwealth Cup winners.
- The first year wasn’t so successful but nothing that featured prominently in the Coventry turned
up at 3. Adaay finished 8th as a juvenile before running a creditable 7
th in the Commonwealth
Cup without ever really getting into contention and Kool Kompany finished 12th in the Coventry
and ran 10th in the Commonwealth Cup.
- Nothing from the previous year’s Coventry ran in either of the 2016 or 2018 editions of the
- Caravaggio won the 2016 Coventry Stakes and followed up at the meeting the following year in
the Commonwealth Cup (Yalta also appeared in both, finishing 8
th as a 2-year-old and stone last
the following year).
- Advertise finished runner-up to the mightily impressive Calyx in the Coventry in 2018 and was
the only Coventry runner to appear in this a year later, going one better with Calyx ruled out
- Only 2 ran in the 2019 Coventry and appeared in the Commonwealth Cup. The winner, Golden
Horde (5th in the Coventry) and the 9
th Royal Lytham (7th in the Coventry), who'd come here off
the back of a run in the Irish 2,000 Guineas over a mile, just 7 days before.
Three winners from six renewals with two of the renewals featuring no Coventry runners is truly
exceptional, and there should be absolutely no reason as to why it can’t happen again. Interestingly,
before the Commonwealth Cup was brought about the last horse to run in a Coventry then go for a 6-
furlong Group 1 at the Royal Meeting (Golden Jubilee) was Art Connoisseur, who won both 2008/09.
Nando Parrado then had the stiff task of taking on a rapid Wesley Ward filly at Deauville on soft going in
the Prix Morny, where the colt put up another decent display finishing just 2 lengths behind the
explosive Campanelle. He made most of his way home up the stands rail on his own that day, Soumillon
did move to join the main group but the colt drifted back out to the rail when under pressure - obviously
it wasn’t ideal, but it was just his third appearance, so he was entitled to still be a little green.
Campanelle was much more composed despite having the same number of runs under her belt and did
it well but I would add that Nando Parrado still ran with credit and did his best work at the finish to rally
for a comfortable 2nd in the end. Clive Cox’s Commonwealth Cup horse of last year, Golden Horde, ran to
the exact same RPR (111) as Nando Parrado in the event the year before when beaten further in a
marginally slower edition of the race.
On his last start, Nando Parrado was sent off a very warm favourite for the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere when
upped to 7 furlongs for the first time on heavy going. He fought gamely to beat Laws Of Indices, who
was previously beaten 4 lengths in the Phoenix Stakes and less than 6 in the National Stakes, nearest at
the finish in both events, but they were both firmly put in their place by a very talented animal in
Sealiway. He won as he liked that day but what I would say is that he had already developed a liking for
the softer underfoot conditions and was proven over the 7 furlongs, so the greater test of stamina
played into the winners’ hands, and I imagine a drop back in trip and a return to a better surface would
be on Nando Parrado’s agenda in the future to see him to a much better effect. I think Sealiway
confirmed the win was no fluke next time up, bolstering the form when travelling to Keeneland to
contest the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf over a mile. He didn’t hit a huge RPR, but he endured a
nightmare passage and still somehow managed to finish an extremely creditable 5th
, with the extremely
well-regarded Cadillac and Battleground not all that far ahead of him.
It is funny because he’s technically second-string to the stable’s Mehmas colt Supremacy, who’s looked
very impressive over 6f, when winning the Group 2 Richmond Stakes and Group 1 Middle Park, and as a
result he sits pretty as 8/1 second favourite for the Commonwealth Cup in June. But, if you take the
form of the Coventry and Richmond literally, Nando Parrado beat Lauded by 6 lengths, Supremacy beat
that rival by 4 1⁄4, Nando Parrado also beat Admiral Nelson by 7 1⁄2 lengths, with Supremacy beating him
by 5 3⁄4. Qaader finished 5 lengths further behind Supremacy than he did Nando Parrado, but he’d also
had a hard race in the July Stakes in between. Obviously, it’s not as black and white as I make out but it’s
also much too soon to be ignored. The Richmond was run in a very quick time but the RPRs are
interesting, Lauded ran to a 101 (over 10 better than anything else he’s produced in seven starts) and
Admiral Nelson hit a much improved 97 (has since hit a 100 in a Listed event upped in distance but both
are clear of his other three runs). Don’t get me wrong, Supremacy was a very easy winner, that day but
I’m not convinced Lauded and Admiral Nelson performed to the level that the RPRs suggest - not that
it’s not entirely possible that they’d improved for experience, I’d just be inclined to believe that the two
Cox-trained colts can be matched much more closely than the ratings that day suggested.
Supremacy obviously then went on again when winning what looks a very good renewal of the Middle
Park while Nando Parrado went a very different route, facing a much softer surface and trialing a step
up in trip. It seems Nando Parrado’s earliest assignment will come in the 2,000 Guineas, I imagine in the
hope that Clive Cox can keep the pair apart, but it really wouldn’t surprise me if he’s not seen to best
effect there and reverted to sprinting. I hope that he can follow in the footsteps of Advertise in 2019 and
win the Commonwealth Cup after failing to make his presence felt in the Guineas (also had his final 2-
year-old start over 7 furlongs).
Longchamp: Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – Tarnawa 9/1
And lastly, the selection that gives me most confidence (given she gets there safe and sound) is the
really smart mare Tarnawa, who did nothing but impress me last season winning all four of her starts
with something in hand. I actually feel her RPR underrates her quite a lot, considering her official rating
is 122 and the form of all of her wins this season has turned out unbelievably well.
On her seasonal reappearance, she won at Cork beating the Irish Oaks 2
nd Cayenne Pepper easily, giving
her 10lbs in weight for age. Cayenne Pepper subsequently won a Group 2 by 4 lengths, and Passion, the
rd (again getting all the weight for age) won a Group 3 on her next outing by nearly 2 lengths.
On her next start, she was returned to Group 1 level in the Prix Vermeille over the Arc trip at
Longchamp, where she again bolted up in a really good time, 4 seconds fast of standard and over a
second faster than Anthony Van Dyck in the Prix Foy on the same card. She beat the well-fancied
Raabihah by 3 lengths that day, giving her 8lbs in weight for age and had the Irish Oaks winner Even So,
subsequent Group 2 winner Valia and subsequent Group 1 winner Wonderful Tonight all even further
behind her. 2
nd placed Raabihah also went on to finish 5th in the Arc on her next start on a much softer
surface than she’d previously encountered, only beaten 4 1⁄4 lengths and staying on for pressure.
She then followed up in the Prix de l’Opera on Arc day, finishing brilliantly from the rear to get up to
beat Coronation Stakes winner Alpine Star late in the day, with Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner
Audarya in 3rd and a subsequent group 3 winner in Grand Glory further back in the ruck. I was really
taken by this performance as I was and still am a little convinced that she’s a better animal on a sounder
surface and won despite the ground, but she really did pick up smartly, ploughing through the mud up
On her final start Tarnawa claimed the Breeders’ Cup Turf, finishing 3 lengths ahead of another of my
selections in Mogul. I mentioned before that that rival made some interesting headway down the back
straight here and I was really impressed by Colin Keane here who was passed by Mogul and Pierre-
Charles Boudot, in that move, and didn’t panic and start pressing any buttons that might scupper his
chances, instead he held together and saved all the filly had for the home straight. 2
nd to last entering
the straight she flew up the centre of the course, first eclipsing the efforts of Lord North, then Magical
and breezing past long-time leader Channel Maker well into the final furlong. They’re three very capable
animals with 12 Group 1 wins between them and she went past them like they were ordinary, with
Mogul back in 5th who then franked the form with a win in the Hong Kong Vase next time out.
She did all of this in the space of three months, between August and November, looking better with
each and every run. It’s no guarantee that with another year behind her she’ll stay at that same level but
she’s only had 12 runs in her career total and has demonstrated plenty of gears on a variety of surfaces.
This was outlined as the main target for this season at the backend of last year and although there’s
been plenty of talk about Love, having looked so irresistible as a 3-year-old, I think Tarnawa looks to
have all the right tools to hold her own again this year and for me she’s the one they’ve all got to beat.