Pinatubo primed to lead Godolphin's European summer charge in 2000 Guineas
Ghaiyyath, Barney Roy, Old Persian and the 2018 Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter are Appleby’s other horses to watch for
Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby believes his powerful string of contenders, headlined by last year’s juvenile sensation Pinatubo, are ready to for their European campaign when the British racing season gets underway on June 1.
Pinatubo is undefeated in six starts, including two Group 1 prizes, earning him a rating of 128, which is higher than the great Frankel at the same stage of his career. The Shamardal colt is set to be primed for his reappearance in the 2000 Guineas - the first of the British Classics at Newmarket, provisionally rescheduled for June 6 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Physically, I do see change. He has grown and strengthened over winter,” Appleby told godolphin.com. “At this time of the year, the question everybody is asking of the Guineas favourite is ‘has he trained on?’
“We are not going to have conclusive proof until the 2000 Guineas, but my gut feeling is that he has trained on. No buttons will be pressed until the big day but from what we are seeing at home, he has gone the right way.
“You can also tell he is an experienced racehorse now. He goes about his business professionally, and nothing fazes him.”
Pinatubo made his debut in a Class 4 Novice at the all-weather Wolverhampton track and followed up with victory in the Class 2 Conditions at Epsom.
Stepping up in class, he was successful in the Listed Chesham Stakes at Ascot, before stretching his unbeaten run to four in the Group 3 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood.
He then trounced Aidan O’Brien’s Armory by nine lengths in the Group 1 Vincent O'Brien National Stakes at the Curragh, and rounded off the season by claiming the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.
Stable jockey William Buick, who was in the saddle in his last two starts, rode Pinatubo for the first time since the Dewhurst last October and was very pleased with the colt.
“William said he gave him the same feel as when he rode him at two,” Appleby said. “We were pleased with his work. It was nice and simple and he went about it in his usual professional straightforward manner. We were delighted the way he finished off the gallop, over six furlongs.”
Pinatubo spent the winter at Newmarket on the decision of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai and Founder of the Dubai Racing Operation.
“It was decided that he should stay at home in Newmarket in familiar surroundings for the simple reasons of not wanting to change his training style or where he trains,” Appleby said.
Pinatubo has won twice over six furlongs and four times over seven. Appleby believes the 2000 Guineas distance over the mile is going to be his trip.
“I believe that because of his mental attitude,” he said. “He is a relaxed character, and if he was later asked to step up in trip, I think he has the right mindset for it.
“As for his physical attributes, he won six races as a juvenile, and three of them were on three of Britain’s most challenging courses — Epsom, Goodwood and Newmarket. His athleticism is a key asset.”
Ghaiyyath, Barney Roy, Old Persian and the 2018 Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter are Appleby’s older horses to watch for.
All four spent the winter in Dubai, with Ghaiyyath successful in the Group 3 Dubai Millennium Stakes, while Barney Roy won the Group 2 Al Rashidiya and Group 1 Jebel Hatta during the Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan.
Appleby has Ghaiyyath aimed at the Group 1 Coronation Cup at Newmarket on June 5 and Barney Roy in the Group 1 Prince Of Wales Stakes at Ascot.
“Ghaiyyath comes to his season in Europe physically stronger, with a winter behind him in Dubai,” he said.
“Now a five-year-old, he is the finished article. He missed his intended Sheema Classic engagement when the Dubai World Cup meeting was cancelled. He travelled back to UK in late April and he has been in full training.”
Barney Roy showed his class, winning twice at Meydan. Appleby also aims him to be on their international team later in the year.
“Old Persian had the winter off,” Appleby said. “He was Ghaiyyath’s understudy, and when he wasn’t required in Dubai, the decision was taken to freshen him up for a campaign in Europe.
“Cross Counter was fresh and well when he went to Riyadh for the Saudi Turf Handicap in February, and he did a bit more than we wanted, he was a bit gassy.
“He was fifth (beaten seven lengths). Obviously, the Gold Cup in Dubai was cancelled and he’s arrived back in UK in good order."
Al Suhail, Royal Crusade and King’s Command are among Appleby's three-year-old hopefuls, while the trainer said most of his two-year-olds need a little time to come to hand, and in a normal year, he would be looking to unveil some nice types at the Newmarket July Meeting. Magical Land, Creative Force, Royal Touch and Noble Dynasty are the two-year-olds of note.
Updated: May 20, 2020 11:02 AM