Pinatubo Ready For Crowning Moment


Pinatubo | Racing Post

Newmarket’s Future Champions card on Saturday is suitably graced by Godolphin’s unbeaten headline-grabbing Pinatubo (Ire) (Shamardal) in the feature G1 Darley Dewhurst S. and there will be shockwaves emanating from this edge of Suffolk if the equilibrium is disturbed. Set tasks of varying degrees of difficulty demanding true versatility on Wolverhampton’s Tapeta, Epsom’s convoluted circuit, the hubbub of Royal Ascot Saturday and opposing tests of Goodwood and The Curragh, the homebred who, like his French counterpart Earthlight (Ire) (Shamardal) is bred to be more of a middle-distance performer, has simply put his head down and succeeded with increased fervour each time. Already drawing comparisons with Frankel (GB), albeit only at this comparative stage of their careers, he does not need to replicate his latest effort when spreadeagling the G1 Goffs Vincent O’Brien National S. field to cap a momentous season for the operation whose distinguished royal blue he bears.

Charlie Appleby deserves credit for not wrapping up Pinatubo already and is hoping to get the right result on the track he will have to conquer on his first real 3-year-old examination in May.

“Pinatubo has been as straightforward as always in his preparation for this race. There is no such thing as an easy Group 1 and we are respectful of the opposition but, on the formbook, he is the one they all have to beat,” he said. “He has taken his races well and has strengthened up–he appears to be maturing with each run–while he is versatile in terms of ground. Newmarket can catch a few horses out. As much as we feel that Pinatubo has plenty of experience on undulating tracks, we won’t know if he will handle the dip at Newmarket until he races on it. He hasn’t put a foot wrong in all his starts to date and I am confident that he has the experience to cope with it.”

As ever, Aidan O’Brien is well-represented in the Dewhurst, a race he has won on six occasions and three times in the last four runnings. Interestingly, in 2017 he saddled a one-two-three without supplying the favourite and in 2016 he had the one-two with two of the five filling the frame priced at 50-1 and 66-1. It is usually the case that his juveniles are peaking only now and in Wichita (Ire) (No Nay Never) he is responsible for an impressive course-and-distance winner after Derrick Smith’s colour-bearer dominated the Sept. 26 G3 Tattersalls S. Arizona (Ire) (No Nay Never) is a G2 Coventry S. winner, ‘TDN Rising Star’ Monarch of Egypt (American Pharoah) is Group 1-placed and Year of the Tiger (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) is almost certainly better than his last two starts trading at 100-1 in places.

It is also intriguing that Clive Cox feels the need to take on Pinatubo again with Alan Spence’s Positive (GB) (Dutch Art {GB}) despite being beaten five lengths by the Godolphin heavyweight in the G2 Vintage S. at Goodwood July 30. Subsequently successful in Sandown’s G3 Solario S. Aug. 31, his presence adds crucial strength to the race which could easily have turned into a Pinatubo vs Ballydoyle affair. “Positive has done really well since he won the Solario,” his trainer said. “He had a proper race that day and also impressed us very much when coming up against Pinatubo on his previous run. Like everyone else I have been extremely taken with Pinatubo, there’s no disputing his quality, but I am hopeful that Positive can show the necessary improvement to close the gap to him.”

Cox believes the rain may help bridge that deficit and added, “We have had a dry summer, so my opinion may be based more on theory than fact, but I would like to think that Positive will be at home on the type of easier ground he is likely to encounter on Saturday. The Dewhurst is a benchmark race which points forward to next year’s Classic contenders and, while I appreciate it is a hot contest again this year, I am very happy that I have a colt good enough to be in the line-up. My only two previous runners have both been placed [Kodi Bear was second in 2014 and Xtension third in 2009] and Positive is a nice horse who is still on an upward curve.”

Newmarket’s pattern-race action begins with the Zetland over 10 furlongs, a race that lost its listed status in the last decade before being revived and upgraded now as a Group 3. Again Godolphin show their appetite for success in this age group with Volkan Star (Ire) (Sea the Stars {Ire}), who scored by six lengths over a mile at Goodwood Aug. 23. Trainer Charlie Appleby commented, “Volkan Star had a good break after winning nicely at Goodwood and we are looking forward to stepping him up to this trip. His preparation has gone well and he looks a nice middle-distance horse for the future.”

In a fascinating edition of the race, John Gosden supplies Westerberg’s unbeaten filly Miss Yoda (Ger) also by Sea the Stars while Aidan O’Brien saddles the impressive Sept. 26 Gowran maiden winner Mythical (Fr) (Camelot {GB}). Also there is the McNeill Family and Ian Dale’s Tritonic (GB) by Sea the Stars’s son Sea the Moon (Ger) and he comes into this on the back of a win in Newbury’s prestigious Haynes, Hanson & Clark Conditions S. Sept. 20.

Next up is the G3 Dubai Autumn S., where Godolphin are double-handed with the Solario third Al Suhail (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) for Charlie Appleby and the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Military March (GB) (New Approach {Ire}). The latter took his sole start over seven furlongs on the July Course here July 27 and the form of that contest has worked out well. “We gave Military March a break following his win on the July Course and he has strengthened up,” his trainer explained. “This is a big step up, but he is in good form and this race will tell us about his future.”

Ballydoyle present the authoritative Sept. 17 Galway maiden scorer Persia (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), while John Gosden saddles another in the Michael Tabor silks in the seven-furlong Ascot and Newbury novice winner Cherokee Trail (War Front). Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Molatham (GB) (Night of Thunder {Ire}) beat Wichita in the Listed Flying Scotsman S. over seven furlongs at Doncaster Sept. 13 and trainer Roger Varian is happy he will stay the mile that his sire excelled over in the 2014 2000 Guineas. “The horse is in great form and I think he’s improving,” he said. “He looks very well and his work has been very good. I think he’ll handle the forecast conditions. He’s got to prove he stays the mile, but he’s a very relaxed horse and I’d like to think he has every chance of doing so.”

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