Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 9 July 2020

'All systems go' for Godolphin at Royal Ascot as Pinatubo looks to make up for 2000 Guineas disappointment

Trainer Appleby confident three-year-old can gain redemption in St James's Palace Stakes after losing his unbeaten record

Pinatubo, ridden by William Buick, wins the Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket in October, 2019. PA Photo
Pinatubo, ridden by William Buick, wins the Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket in October, 2019. PA Photo

Last year's champion juvenile Pinatubo has a chance to quickly redeem his reputation in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on Saturday.

Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby's Shamardal colt carried all before him in a perfect two-year-old season, which culminated with a hard-fought win in the Dewhurst but was highlighted by a nine-length romp in the National Stakes at the Curragh.

He had earlier won at Royal Ascot in the Chesham Stakes, the third of six wins last season, but he could then finish only third on his reappearance in the 2000 Guineas.

Aidan O'Brien's Wichita was second to Kameko at Newmarket and faces Pinatubo again on Saturday – while John Gosden steps Palace Pier sharply up in grade, having won a handicap impressively at Newcastle two weeks ago.

Appleby expects Pinatubo to improve on his Guineas performance. He said: "I'm really pleased with him. [Jockey] William [Buick] sat on him on Wednesday, and he had a nice breeze.

"You can definitely see this horse has sharpened up for his run in the Guineas.

"As much as I'm not going to get away from the fact I was delighted with the way we were going into the Guineas, he is a horse, as we saw last year, that progressed race on race – and I feel that race has definitely brought him forward.

"There is a drying forecast, but we have had the rain – although that doesn't bother me, because he has won on soft ground – and even when he won the National Stakes it was on the slow side of good. The conditions don't worry me.

"Obviously, we have got to re-oppose the horse that was second in the Guineas [Wichita], but you also have Threat and Positive of Clive Cox's who they think a bit of. So it is a good race, but I couldn't be any happier with our fellow.

"It was mixture of emotions after the Guineas. It was disappointing that he got beat and had his unbeaten record tarnished there, but the positive side of it was that I was actually more relieved halfway through the race that the horse was up there travelling away looking like he was going to run a race.

"To be brutally honest, though, I knew going into the Guineas that he looked well and his fitness was there and mentally he was where he was as a two-year-old, but the worry was 'had he trained on?'.

"I felt that was the biggest box ticked on the day – that he has proven that he has trained on. It is all systems go to Saturday now, and I'm looking forward to it."

Updated: June 20, 2020 08:25 AM

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