Three of flat racing’s biggest shock victories

Magical (Séamie Heffernan) on her way to winning the Longines Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown. Credit: Horse Racing Ireland (HRI).

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As the flat racing season begins to wind down, now is the time for reflection. With the return of spectators to the racetrack thanks to changes in the governments coronavirus restrictions, the days of eerily silent stands and lonely podium celebrations are hopefully a thing of the past — and it seems that the quality of racing was amped up a notch as we came away from behind closed doors.

Of course, for every memorable victory, and there has been plenty this flat racing season, there is the occasional shock. Seemingly out of nowhere a horse will come along and defy all expectations, causing a shakeup in the betting odds and blowing the tips for horse racing out of the water. Seeing as though there have already been some big upsets on this year’s calendar, we thought it would be appropriate to look at three of the best shock wins in modern flat racing history.

Torquator Tasso wins Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2021)

Getting things started is perhaps the biggest upset Longchamp has seen in its long, prestigious history. Entering as an 80/1 outsider, it was Torquator Tasso who stole the show in the city of love, with many inside the stadium left to scratch their head and wonder what they had really just witnessed. For a race like the Arc, with so much heritage and prestige, things like this weren’t supposed to happen.

Named after the famous Italian poet, ironically no superlatives would do this performance justice as the Germans took over the French capital, with none of the Parisians expecting anything of Rene Piechulek on his first run at the Arc, but on the right day with the right conditions, anything is possible.

Billesdon Brook wins the 1000 Guineas (2018)

The 1000 Guineas is always an exciting time of year in the flat racing season. The weather is starting to get better, there is usually a bank holiday on the horizon and racegoers know that unpredictability is in the air — all the ingredients for a massive shock which Billesdon Brook made sure to deliver on. Coming in at 66/1, trainer Richard Hannon picked up a second victory in the race as his three-year-old motored through to victory by one-and-three-quarter lengths.

“That was a surprise but there was nothing fluky about it, she travelled lovely,” Hannon said.

“All of our Guineas winners have needed their first run, we got Sky Lantern beaten in her trial and Night Of Thunderbeaten in his, and they both won here.”

150/1 outsider Nando Parrado wins at Royal Ascot (2020)

As mentioned before, the majority of the races in 2020 were ran behind closed doors, and it is all the more disappointing when rare moments like this happen. The meeting’s highest ever priced winner, Nando Parrado, winning at 150/1. Unbelievable. The Clive Cox-trained horse made history in Berkshire, breaking records that stretched back as far as the 1970s to cement in their legacy in one of the most infamous Ascot weekends.

For as good as the performance was, the Coventry based trainer insisted it wasn’t just good luck on their side: “I think we shouldn’t treat it as a fluke because we had a positive plan for him anyway, which is very much alive after that performance.”

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