Godolphin’s Pinatubo heads the betting, currently a best-priced 10/11 to land the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday.
Pinatubo – 2000 Guineas Favoruite
The Charlie-Appleby trained colt remained a perfect 6 from 6 during his juvenile campaign, with his standout performance coming at the Curragh in the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes.
Fittingly, being named after a Filipino volcano, Pinatubo exploded to win by 9-lengths that day and had the reopposing and current 2000 Guineas second favourite Arizona nine-and-a-quarter lengths back in third.
Pinatubo finished the season with an astonishing rating of 128, the highest two-year-old figure achieved since Celtic Song in 1994, with Frankel rated 126 at the end of his two-year-old season for a more recent comparison.
So is it that simple for the son of Sharmadal? If he’s previously beaten the current second-favourite by over nine lengths, can he be scaled? And if so, who in the chasing pack could be the chief threat to his unbeaten record on Saturday?
No horse is infallible, and it remains to be seen how the delayed season will affect the runners, with only the outsider of the field New World Tapestry having had a run in the last five months, with most not running in over 200 days.
2000 Guineas Favourites’ Record
The recent record of favourites in the 2000 Guineas also leaves a little to be desired. Since 2008 only five favourites have triumphed in the race, with just two, Churchill and Gleneagles in the last six renewals.
Why has this been the case? One reason is a horse’s development from two to three. Some horses are incredibly well rounded at two, with the perfect conformation and mind from the get-go, others remain a frame of a horse and take longer to fill out and reach their true potential.
Pinatubo definitely fell into the first category being a short powerful-looking horse with the attitude and temperament to go with it, and while connections seem bullish about his development over the winter, until he steps of the track that remains conjecture.
Many of his rivals, however, particularly the three currently preceding Pinatubo in the betting in Arizona, Kameko and Kinross, gave the impression last year that had the scope to improve a great deal from two to three.
Chief Threats to Pinatubo
The Aidan O’Brien trained son of No Nay Never has been a bit of talking horse over the winter, with connections purring over his development. He has twice been beaten by Pinatubo but did get within two lengths of him in the Dewhurst. He has displayed a startling turn of foot on a couple of occasions and may give the favourite something to think about if seeing out the mile stronger this term.
Winner of the rearranged Group-1 Vertum Futurity Stakes on his final start, Kameko looked to improve from race-to-race. Andrew Balding has claimed he could be the best horse he’s had in a while and has done nothing but please him over the winter. He’s a tall horse with the size and scope to improve again and being by Kitten’s Joy looks to have plenty of stamina in reserve.
A breathtaking winner on his debut at Newmarket, before being sent off favourite in the Vertum Futurity Stakes, where he finished fifth in behind Kameko. He was interfered with early on which saw him race a touch keenly before showing signs of greenness when asked for his final effort but came home well to confirm his debut promise. With just two career starts Kinross is unexposed but looks potentially top class, and could be the likeliest candidate to improve past the favourite.
Looks to be Aidan O’Brien’s second string and receives the services of Frankie Dettori in the 2000 Guineas. He was impressive in winning the Group-3 Tattersalls Stakes here at the Rowley mile, before finishing in behind Arizona and Pinatubo in the Dewhurst. Has ground to make up on Arizona and Pinatubo, but is a similar type to those we have seen Aidan O’Brien work his magic on before.
Despite being described as a bit weak last season, Military March remained unbeaten in his two starts, including a victory over the reopposing Al Suhail. Another unexposed could be anything type that has rumoured to have done well over the winter, he looks to go one better than his sire New Approach before an expected tilt at the Derby next month.
While Pinatubo ticks a lot of boxes, as a 10/11 2020 Guineas favourite should, there is a group in behind him with a wealth of untapped potential.
As we have seen in 7 of the last 12 runnings of the 2020 Guineas, favourites can be vulnerable to horses improving past them from two to three and this year’s bunch look to have the potential to ask the Champion Two-Year-Old plenty of questions come Saturday.