Pinatubo is bigger, stronger and has probably “trained on” since his spectacular juvenile season, his trainer has said in the lead-up to the 2,000 Guineas, which takes place a fortnight on Saturday.
Charlie Appleby has kept his thoughts to himself since the star youngster was last seen on a racecourse in October but indicated on Tuesday that he sees every reason to hope Pinatubo will not just be a one-year wonder.
“Mentally, I see no change in him,” said Appleby, giving his pre-season briefing by email because of the Covid-19 crisis. “His demeanour is the same from two [years old] to three. He remains totally relaxed. Physically, though, I do see change. He has grown and strengthened over winter. We are not going to have conclusive proof until the 2,000 Guineas on 6 June but my gut feeling is that Pinatubo has trained on.”
The Godolphin trainer’s words will come as a considerable relief to the many who have backed Pinatubo at short prices for the 2,000 Guineas since last summer, when he shot to prominence with an impressive Chesham win during Royal Ascot. Some firms made him odds-on for the Guineas as long ago as September, reacting to his devastating nine-length victory in Ireland’s National Stakes.
A rating of 128 made Pinatubo the best two-year-old in Europe for a quarter of a century, but the natural fear for Appleby and others is that the horse could have been helped by precocity and his peers may since have caught up with his physical development. The Newmarket Classic will reveal all. “No buttons will be pressed until the big day,” the trainer said, “but from what we are seeing at home, he has gone the right way.”
William Buick, who was aboard Pinatubo in both the National and the Dewhurst, sat on the horse for the first time on Saturday, for a piece of work over six furlongs in the Moulton Paddocks complex on the edge of Newmarket. “William said he gave him the same feel as when he rode him at two,” Appleby reported.
Many a Godolphin horse has spent a pampered winter in Dubai but the decision was to leave Pinatubo in Newmarket and avoid changes to his surroundings or training regime. Appleby hopes the fruits of that decision will be evident on 6 June, for which Pinatubo is no bigger than 6-5.
“He has pleased me in his work and provided there are no hiccups I think he will give a very good account of himself,” the trainer added.