Andrew Balding had been waxing lyrical about Kameko for some time and that confidence was rewarded when he powered to victory in the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in a record time on Saturday.
Ridden by champion jockey Oisín Murphy, he got the better of the Aidan O’Brien-trained Wichita by a neck, with odds-on favourite Pinatubo a length behind the winner in third.
No more Frankel comparisons
Pinatubo, touted by many to be the next Frankel, was unbeaten as a two-year-old and came into the race with a ferocious reputation, however the 5-6 favourite didn’t seem to have the required proper stamina in his locker to see out that extra furlong.
Kameko won the Group 1 Vertem Futurity Trophy on his final start last season and the 10-1 shot proved that was no fluke when powering home to collar Aidan O’Brien’s Wichita on the run to the winning post.
Kenzai Warrior of the Roger Teal yard was the romantic story pre-race but he nearly unshipped Jason Watson leaving the stalls which put paid to his chances very early on in the race.
Horse to watch for the Derby
It has to be said that Pinatubo was disappointing but the one in the Godolphin colours to take out of the race for the Derby is Military March, who ran an eye-catching race in fourth and will be much better over further.
It was Oisín Murphy’s first Classic success, and he said afterwards: “I’ve never won a Classic in Britain and it means the absolute world to me. It’s the stuff of dreams.”
“It was a gutsy performance. He hardly blew a candle out afterwards – he must have a tremendous amount of ability.”
Kameko is now the market leader for the Epsom Derby favouritism and his trainer is excited to go there July 4.
“He was doing his best work late on and this is his minimum,” Andrew Balding said.
“He will stay further than this. He has always looked smart and he always looked like he would be a better three-year-old as well.”
“He was always travelling well and just when they quickened it looked like he was going to need a bit of a split and he didn’t get the cleanest of runs. He went a little right-handed when he first let go and I was always confident he would get on top. It was only when he was past the line that I was happy though. That was the one we came here for and wanted.”
Persistence pays off for Balding
“This is massive, as a Classic is a Classic whenever it is run. It has been a long time since I last won a Classic and it has been a long time since Kingsclere has had a Guineas winner. It speaks volumes of the team at home. They have done an amazing job.”
“It is huge and we are very grateful to everyone who has worked hard to get racing back on, and as I said a Guineas is a Guineas whenever it is run. I couldn’t be happier.”
“To me it (the Derby) looks the obvious choice, there would be a stamina doubt but there’s only one way to find out.”
What next for Pinatubo?
Charlie Appleby said: “Pinatubo travelled well into the race there when he had Frankie’s horse as his target, but when he made his move he got up to their girths and just didn’t go any further forward.”
“Obviously I’m disappointed as it’s the first time the horse has been beaten in his career, but at least he hasn’t fallen out of the back of the telly. He’s had a normal blow after that and we’ll take him home, but the first impression would be to take him to the St James’s Palace Stakes.”