Two-year-old sensation Pinatubo takes centre stage in Dewhurst
Joseph O’Brien’s Red Tea favourite for Canadian Grade One
William Buick riding Pinatubo to win the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh on September 15th. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
A bumper domestic weekend programme is accompanied by Irish runners around the globe, although there’s no doubt the eyes of the racing world will be on Newmarket come 3.30pm on Saturday.
The sport’s potential next superstar, Pinatubo, bids to complete a perfect six-out-of-six unbeaten season in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes.
Godolphin’s star is already rated the best two-year-old seen in Europe in a quarter of a century after his spectacular nine-length romp in last month’s National Stakes at the Curragh.
Even in the context of Godolphin mopping up other top juvenile prizes this season, Pinatubo already looks assured of two-year-old championship honours.
So in that context the argument could be that Pinatubo has more to lose than to gain by lining up again. However considering his rate of improvement from race to race already, the potential exists for another spectacular display.
Pinatubo made his debut in May, similar to the legendary Mill Reef who won the Dewhurst on his sixth start in the 1970 Dewhurst.
Aidan O’Brien supplies half of Pinatubo’s eight-strong opposition including the supplemented Wichita. But on all we’ve seen perhaps the biggest chance of an upset is that a long campaign eventually might catch up with the star attraction.
Willie Mullins will have an early start to Saturday as his smart stayer True Self lines up in an Australian Grade Two at Caulfield due off at 4.35am in the morning Irish-time.
Later in the afternoon the champion jumps trainer’s international focus extends to Newmarket as he tries to land back to back English Cesarewitch victories. Low Sun led home a Mullins 1-2 in the marathon contest last year, and Frankie Dettori’s mount Buildmeupbuttercup leads a three-pronged attack this time.
Mullins’s brother Tony and his nephew Emmet also saddle Cesarewitch runners, while Harry Kelly’s dour staying Great Tango is among three other Irish-trained starters.
Joseph O’Brien doesn’t figure among them, and instead his international reach spans both France and Canada on Saturday.
The two-year-old Lady Penelope takes her chance in a Group Two at Maisons-Lafitte in the afternoon. At 10.05pm that night O’Brien’s Red Tea is a 3-1 favourite with local odds-makers in Canada when lining up for the Grade One EP Taylor Stakes at Woodbine.
Earlier on in the same Woodbine card “Fozzy” Stack’s Woody Creek takes a shot at the Grade Two Nearctic Stakes.
Closer to home, Limerick’s Saturday feature, the Listed Martin Molony Stakes, gets some star power through the appearance of the Oaks runner-up Pink Dogwood. Also third in the Irish Oaks and the Pretty Polly, Aidan O’Brien’s runner is clear on ratings although forecast testing ground is a concern.
It’s also a quick reappearance by Pink Dogwood after finishing out of the frame in last Sunday’s Prix de l’Opera.
The unexposed Metier can’t boast anything like her CV but could be more at home in the conditions.
Sunday could see Willie Mullins bid for a Cesarewitch double with four runners in the Irish version at the Curragh.
They include the topweight Saglawy, and although last year’s runner-up Davids Charm is likely to be among the main contenders, Dalton Highway might be value to reverse Killarney summer form with him.
Limerick hosts its own big €100,000 handicap on Sunday, and on very soft ground Internal Transfer could extend his unbeaten track record to four in the Munster National.