Pinatubo Odds On For 2000 Guineas Glory
June 4, 2020
Not since the early years of the mighty Frankel has there been such a stir about a 3-year old stallion. Godolphin’s Pinatubo might just be the horse to win the hearts of racing fans and the public in general, as he takes on the field in the prestigious QIPCO 2000 Guineas Stakes this Saturday at Newmarket.
Although Pinatubo will likely face a competitive field of fourteen other runners- with Arizona and Kameko being particular threats – he remains the runaway favourite with odds of 5/6 from bookmaker William Hill that he will win the 2000 Guineas Stakes – the one-mile Group 1 Classic for 3-year old thoroughbred colts and fillies. If he does indeed win, the bookies may be sorely out of pocket but the racing industry as a whole will be delighted as it returns to business this week after an 11-week layoff. A new star rising will be just the ticket to engage existing racing fans and ignite interest in others who are desperately keen to view live sport once more on their TVs and perhaps to place a wee bet or two.
Pinatubo won all six of his flat races last year in great style. His immense nine-length victory at the National Stakes, at The Curragh was hugely significant as was his convincing win at Newmarket’s Dewhurst Stakes, the most prestigious race for 2-years olds in the racing calendar. He earned the Godolphin stables the princely sum of £714,691 during the 2019 flat racing season and his jockey, William Buick, is confident that the bay colt will add to that tally and triumph once more on Saturday.
The talented 31-year old – who won the 2018 Epsom Derby on Masar – raved about Pinatubo recently on the Paddy Power Forum The Horse’s Mouth podcast, saying ““He was foot perfect last year and you know it’s all been said about him before, he had a long season last year but he performed every run. Obviously, he’s wintered well, he looks fantastic and he’s a horse that we’re all very much looking forward to. He is straightforward and he’s very versatile with it as well. He obviously ran at Epsom, Goodwood, The Curragh, ran in Newmarket back-end on soft ground and his temperament as well – it’s a huge help and he’s always took everything in his stride which as we all know from a jockey’s point of view is a dream.”
Trainer Charlie Appleby is similarly enthusiastic and says “Pinatubo’s main asset is that he is the ultimate professional. Any sportsman at the top, you generally do not see them fretting going into a champion competition whatever it is, boxing or golf. Those cool, calm customers are the ones that often turn up with their “A” game and channel their positivity into the swing of the club or the punch of the glove. Pinatubo has a great mind. He turns up and knows that, once those starting gates open, it is game on. He is not a horse who lights you up in the mornings.”
Appleby’s confidence in Pinatubo remains high and he believes that the delayed start to flat-racing and, consequently, his charge’s lack of recent racing experience, will not prove to be a disadvantage as, after all, each of the horses will be in the same boat. There is a big leap from 2-year old racing to 3-year old racing but Appleby reckons that Pinatubo “ has strengthened over the winter. He has met every challenge we have set him so far.
The tall and elegant Irish-bred Arizona is Pinatubo’s nearest rival according to the bookies, with odds of 6/1 from BetFred. Trainer Aidan O’Brien has four runners in the race including the second-favourite Arizona, and is looking for a fourth consecutive victory at Newmarket on Saturday. O’Brien succeeded with Magna Grecia last year, and also won in 2018 with Saxon Warrior and 2017 with Churchill so he has a terrific record with the 2000 Guineas.
Talking about his top runner, O’Brien expresses confidence saying “Arizona is in good form, everything has gone well with him…He’s a big, rangy, scopey horse and we always thought he would improve from two to three and it would suit him being a three-year-old. We’ll see — he ran a very good race to win the Coventry and ran some very good races after that. We think he’s ready to start…He’s a straightforward horse, a good traveller, and he likes nice ground. We’ve been looking forward to running him”.
Arizona, who will be ridden by jockey Ryan Moore, won the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot last year and was runner-up to Pinatubo in the Dewhurst, so he rightly takes top billing in the Ballydoyle line-up this time round with Wichita, his nearest rival in the stables, unlikely to catch him. William Hill’s odds of 14/1 for Wichita reflect his relatively poor prospects in this competitive field.
American-bred Kameko is third favourite for the race, with bookie Coral offering odds of 7/1 that will beat the competition. This promising Qatar Racing horse won the Vertem Furity Trophy (G1) last year, the first group 1 race to be held on all-weather under lights. Trainer Andrew Balding says “he’s a very good horse who is improving all the time”.
So Pinatubo will have some healthy competition this Saturday but remains the outstanding favourite. After his six straight wins last season, Pinatubo was given an official rating of 128, two points ahead of racing legend Frankel at the same stage, making him the best European juvenile since 1994.
Racing needs its stars like Pinatubo, and there is no doubt that the Godolphin horse has stellar prospects this season. But all is not sweetness and light in the Godolphin stables. And even prior to the events of the past couple of months, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has been under pressure for its continuing support for the owner of Godolphin, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
When in March this year the family courts found Sheikh Mohammed – Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai – guilty of the abduction and forced return to Dubai of two of his daughters, the judges also pronounced that the owner of Godolphin had “not been open and honest with the court”. With clear evidence of human rights violations, can Sheikh Mohammed be considered a “fit and proper” person to be the owner of his stables, as required by the RHA code of conduct? Or does the enormous influence he wields in the industry – courtesy of his massive investment over decades in the UK, Dubai, Australia and Japan – take precedence? What a dilemma for the BHA to face as racing returns to our screens this week.