Pinatubo set to finish unbeaten season on a high
Emphatic National Stakes winner now primed for Darley Dewhurst Stakes
William Buick riding Pinatubo win The Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Newmarket’s historic juvenile championship has been won in the past by legendary names such as Nijinsky, Mill Reef and Frankel although few if any have gone into the race with a bigger reputation than Pinatubo.
His nine-length National Stakes rout at the Curragh over ‘Irish Champions Weekend’ has been acclaimed as one of the great two-year-old performances in modern times.
That was the Godolphin colt’s fifth win and it officially made him the highest rated juvenile in quarter of a century on an outstanding mark of 128. He is an evens favourite for next year’s 2,000 Guineas.
“He has come out of the National Stakes in good shape. As per usual he has been straightforward at home. I’d say we have frightened off most of the opposition but from what we have seen he has been very impressive for all to see and he has improved on each run,” said Pinatubo’s trainer Charlie Appleby.
“It was great to see Earthlight [also owned by Godolphin] winning the Middle Park and he’s there as one of the potential champion two-year-olds.
“But if Pinatubo wins the Dewhurst I think it’s signed, sealed and delivered that he’s the most exciting two year old we’ve seen this year,” he added.
Pinatubo could face up to 10 opponents on Saturday with half that potential opposition trained by Aidan O’Brien.
They include the wide-margin course and distance winner Wichita who was supplemented into the Dewhurst at Monday’s acceptance stage.
O’Brien has won the Dewhurst six times in the past including three in a row before last year’s winner Too Darn Hot.
However Pinatubo is a general 2-5 favourite to execute a perfect finale to the season with Wichita rated his biggest threat by most bookmakers.
Willie Mullins landed the English Cesarewitch with Low Sun a year ago and has the ante-post favourite for Saturday’s big betting heat in Buildmeupbuttercup. The Galway winner found only Kastasa too good for her in a handicap over ‘Irish Champions Weekend’ and the latter has since landed a Curragh Group Three.
A decision on whether or not Enable could run once more after her second to Waldgeist at Longchamp on Sunday has yet to be made.
Ascot’s Champion Stakes in less than a fortnight, or a chance to defend her Breeders Cup Turf title in Santa Anita at the start of next month, look to be her options.
“She ran a super race and we can’t complain,” said a spokesman for Enable’s owner, Prince Khalid Abdullah. “She was just outstayed by the winner on the ground, it’s as simple as that really.”
In other flat news both last year’s Dewhurst winner Too Darn Hot and the 2018 Derby hero Masar have been retired to Sheikh Mohammed’s Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket.
Too Darn Hot was beaten in his first three starts as a three-year-old but rallied to win both the Prix Jean Prat and the Sussex Stakes before injury ended his racing career.
Ultra-testing ground conditions shouldn’t be a problem for Willie Mullins’s Sayo in a Beginners Chase but he will need better jumping compared to his debut over fences at Listowel last month.
All Those Years won a bumper at the Galway festival and ran well on his hurdling bow at Listowel. However another bumper winner in the opener, Thatsy, can call on the experience of winning a point-to-point.