LONDON, United Kingdom – Pinatubo will bid to make it seven wins from seven races on Saturday in the English 2000 Guineas but it will be a vastly different atmosphere at Newmarket to the one he experienced last October.
Then, in front of a packed racecourse, the Charlie Appleby-trained star won the Dewhurst Stakes confirming his status as the leading two-year-old in Europe.
Should he win on Saturday there will be no roars to greet him from satisfied punters or groans from the racecourse bookmakers who cannot attend because of the regulations imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Appleby’s main concern is over whether the odds-on favourite has maintained his progress, staying ahead of his rivals enough to give Dubai owners Godolphin their second Guineas of the week.
Victor Ludorum — trained by Andre Fabre — won the French equivalent impressively on Monday.
“We are not going to have conclusive proof until the 2,000 Guineas on June 6, but my gut feeling is that Pinatubo has trained on,” Appleby told the Godolphin website.
“No buttons will be pressed until the big day but from what we are seeing at home, he has gone the right way.
“Mentally, I see no change in him.
“His demeanour is the same from two to three. Physically, though, I do see change. He has grown and strengthened over winter.
“You can also tell he is an experienced racehorse now. He goes about his business professionally, and nothing fazes him.”
Pinatubo will face 14 rivals with the chief dangers coming from Arizona, one of four runners sent from Ireland by Aidan O’Brien, and Qatar Racing’s Kameko.
Arizona finished second in the Dewhurst so has a bit to find with Pinatubo if he is to give O’Brien his 11th win in the race and fourth in succession.
The 50-year-old says it has been far from easy to prepare Arizona and his stablemates for their targets but he is satisfied he will give a good account of himself.
“The horses have been ticking over,” he said.
“But obviously every time you think you had a target and put a sight on it, the next thing the target moves and you have to change again, so it’s a little bit tricky and horses do feel that.”
HORSES FOR COURSES’
Kameko earned his place amongst the close season favourites due to a win in the Group One Futurity Trophy.
For trainer Andrew Balding success would be his first in the race and indeed succeed where his father Ian failed.
“Kameko looks to have the actual attributes to deliver the Guineas for myself and Sheikh Fahad (Al-Thani of Qatar Racing),” Balding told AFP.
The fillies take centre stage on Sunday with the 1000 Guineas with the unbeaten Quadrilateral the one to beat.
Her chief rival could well be Irish filly Millisle who bids to give trainer Jessica Harrington her first win in the race.
Millisle has already won at Newmarket last year so travelling will not be a bother for her.
However, stable jockey Shane Foley will not travel so British champion jockey Oisin Murphy will ride instead.
Foley would have to self-isolate for a fortnight on his return to Ireland and thus be ruled out of riding the fancied Albigna in the Irish 1000 Guineas on June 13.
The 73-year-old Harrington — who cannot go racing in Ireland due to over 70s being barred from doing so — is “cautiously optimistic”.
“We are convinced she will stay but it is not till they are on the course that you are proved right or wrong,” she told AFP.
“However, ‘horses for courses’ is my belief and she has won there.”