Kameko, at 10-1, came with a strong late run between horses for Oisin Murphy to land the Qipco 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, beating Wichita and Frankie Dettori, with Pinatubo, the odds-on favourite, only third. Andrew Balding’s colt, who was giving Murphy his first success in a Classic, is the new 3-1 favourite (from 9-1) with Paddy Power for the Derby at Epsom on 4 July.
Pinatubo went into the race with a perfect six-from-six record as a juvenile, which saw him end the season as the most highly rated two-year-old for 25 years. He travelled well enough during the race but the devastating burst of finishing speed which carried him to several emphatic wins last year was missing as Wichita struck for home with Kameko trying to run him down.
Murphy was forced to wait for running room before making his move but Kameko responded well once he was clear, albeit while drifting right across the course. He got the better of Wichita well inside the final furlong to win by a neck, with Pinatubo another length away in third.
Balding said: “Probably his optimum trip would be a mile-and-a-quarter but I think for one day only, he might be able to stay a mile and a half.” Asked about racing without spectators, he said: “It’s quite bizarre but I promise you I didn’t feel any less elation than if there had been 5,000 people here. It’s a Guineas and a huge achievement for the whole team.”
Kameko is a son of the American stallion Kitten’s Joy, whose late son Roaring Lion provided Murphy with several Group One wins in the 2018 season but failed to get home over 12 furlongs in at Epsom.