Charlie Appleby believes last season’s juvenile sensation Pinatubo is bigger and stronger as the unbeaten son of Sharmadal prepares to embark on his highly anticipated classic campaign, starting in the QIPCO Two Thousand Guineas (G1).
Pinatubo comes into the season following a dazzling 2-year-old campaign, in which his six wins earned him a rating higher than Frankel achieved at that stage of his career.
And he will look to emulate the greats when starting the season in the Two Thousand Guineas, the first classic of the rescheduled calendar on June 6. The Godolphin star is a top-priced 6-5 favourite for the race with Sky Bet.
He is also entered in the Investec Derby (G1)—for which he is as short as 6-1—although no plans were confirmed for targets after the Guineas.
Appleby retains faith in his juvenile ace and believes he will be in perfect shape for his date with destiny, albeit a bit later than expected, on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile.
Appleby said: “At this time of the year, the question everybody is asking is, ‘Has he trained on?’ We’re not going to have conclusive proof until the Guineas, but my gut feeling is that he has. No buttons will be pressed until the big day but from what we’re seeing at home, he’s gone the right way.
“Mentally, I see no change in him. His demeanour is the same from 2 to 3. He remains totally relaxed. 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.”
Apart from his natural brilliance, Appleby believes Pinatubo possesses the attributes required of a Guineas champion. He could also be tested over a distance further than a mile later this season.
“I think the mile is going to be his trip,” Appleby said. “I believe that because of his mental attitude. He’s 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.
“He’s pleased me in his work in preparation for the Guineas and, provided there are no hiccups, I think he’ll give a very good account of himself.”
‘Pinatubo Had Gone Under the Radar in All His Homework’
Plenty of Godolphin’s top performers competed in the Dubai World Cup carnival through the winter—until racing in the UAE concluded early following the coronavirus outbreak—but a decision was made by Sheikh Mohammed and Appleby to keep Pinatubo at home.
Appleby has always stressed Pinatubo has never particularly dazzled on the gallops at Moulton Paddocks, yet he achieved a career-high RPR of 128 on the racecourse with potentially more improvement to come.
“I am often asked why we didn’t take Pinatubo to Dubai during the winter,” he said. “It was decided that he should stay at home in Newmarket in familiar surroundings. It was a decision taken by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and myself for the simple reason of not wanting to change his training style or where he trains.
“Pinatubo had gone under the radar in all his homework before he first ran. He always did himself well. He’d get his work done, but he did nothing to suggest he would end the season as the highest-rated 2-year-old in Europe.
“He never won a gallop but he never finished last. He only did enough. He worked adequately—he would never disappoint but he would never excite, either. There are plenty who win gallops in the morning and never turn up in the afternoon. He’s the opposite.”
William Buick was on board Pinatubo for his sensational nine-length Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (G1) romp and Darley Dewhurst (G1) win, and reports the 3-year-old in fine shape at home.
“On Saturday, William Buick came to sit on Pinatubo for the first time since the Dewhurst last October, and he was very pleased with him,” the trainer added.
“William said he gave him the same feel as when he rode him at 2. 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.
“It was not a test. It was a piece of work to bring him on, and we now look forward to the final stages of his preparation for the Guineas.”