Scintilating. Outstanding. Awesome. Breathtaking. Tremendous. They are just five ways to describe Pinatubo’s performance in the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday and yet none seem quite adequate.
And it was not just a freakish one-off. The Charlie Appleby-trained colt had previously routed his rivals in the Qatar Vintage Stakes at Goodwood and before that romped home in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Who is going to take him on in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket next month? John Gosden said on Tuesday that he does not expect many to take up the challenge and gave his own verdict on him.
“Pinatubo is named after a Philippines volcano and he certainly exploded like one at the Curragh," the champion trainer said at the launch of The Newmarket Gold Season.
“I think if he turns up in the Dewhurst he will terrify people, (but) what better way to crown a champion two-year-old and 2000 Guineas favourite?
“You could end up with a small field in the Dewhurst, but if you end up with a champion, that is what it is about.
“It was an unbelievable performance. When horses come along like that it is great and so exciting.”
The exciting Earthlight made it four wins from as many races when landing the Prix Morny at Deauville last month and Andre Fabre indicated afterwards that the Dewhurst would be on his agenda. However, he is in the same ownership as Pinatubo and now seems bound for the Middle Park Stakes.
Threat enhanced his reputation with victory in the Champagne Stakes last Saturday and, having proven his stamina for seven furlongs, the Dewhurst seemed a logical next step for him.
However, on Tuesday, his connections revealed they are in no rush to take on Pinatubo and as a consequence are also leaning towards the Middle Park.
Cheveley Park’s managing director Chris Richardson said: “We don’t want to be avoiding one horse as a lot can happen between now and then, but at this point I think we will probably be avoiding that (Pinatubo), having watched him sluice up in Ireland.”
Pinatubo powered nine lengths clear in the National Stakes, a Group One contest that often has a significant bearing on next year’s QIPCO 2000 Guineas. Five times since 2002 the winner has gone on to triumph at Newmarket.
If the Guineas were run three weeks from now then bookmakers would not be betting on whether Pinatubo would win, but by how far.
The only reason he’s as big as 6-4 with bet365 to triumph in the first Classic of next season – he’s as short as 4-5 elsewhere - is that the race is seven-and-a-half months away.
He has to train on, and even if he does 24 hours can be along time in the life of a thoroughbred with banana skins lurking around every corner.
For instance, last season’s champion two-year-old Too Darn Hot missed the Guineas because of a setback in the spring. And the unbeaten Quorto, also owned by Godolphin, has not been seen on a racecourse since his defeat of subsequent Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck in the National Stakes a year ago.
THE STORY SO FAR - PINATUBO'S FIVE WINS:
Date: May 10. Track: Wolverhampton. Distance: 6f.
Race: Myracing.com Free Tips Every Day Novice Stakes
Runners: 11. Going: standard. Price: 3-1.
This Friday evening maiden on the all-weather hardly seemed the most obvious starting point for a superstar two-year-old but the first prize of £4,787 clearly interested Godolphin as they fielded three runners.
Pinatubo was wide and only seventh turning for home – trading at 14-1 in-running on Betfair – but he quickened up smartly under James Doyle to win going away by three and a quarter lengths from the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Platinum Star.
Value of the form?: Platinum Star won next time out and landed a Listed prize at Ripon on his latest start. In between, he finished runner-up in the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot plus the Group 2 July Stakes at Newmarket when beaten a short head.
Date: May 31. Track: Epsom. Distance: 6f
Race: Investec Woodcote EBF Stakes (conditions)
Runners: 6. Going: good. Price: Evens.
James Willoughby and Angus McNae put the Woodcote under the microscope
A little restless in the stalls and awkward out of them, Pinatubo was left playing catch-up as Misty Grey zoomed into a clear lead.
Despite looking a little unbalanced on the track, Pinatubo overhauled Misty Grey about a furlong out and was then kept up to his work to keep the staying-on Oh Purple Reign at bay by a length and a half.
Value of the form?: Not a race to be getting carried away with, although Oh Purple Reign has since continued to run solidly. He has won at York and Chester, plus finished runner-up in the Group Three Sirenia Stakes at Kempton.
Tom Stanley spoke to Charlie Appleby after Pinatubo's Epsom win
Date: June 22. Track: Ascot. Distance: 7f
Race: Chesham Stakes (Listed)
Runners: 14. Going: good to firm. Price: 3-1.
The day Pinatubo announced himself as potentially something out of the ordinary. His emphatic win here was the juvenile performance of the week at Royal Ascot with Timeform making him their highest-rated winner of the Chesham since at least 1992.
It looked like he and Lopey Y Fernandez, the favourite, trained by Aidan O’Brien, were in for quite a tussle when they locked horns a furlong out but Pinatubo stayed on much the strongest to score by three and a quarter lengths. The field finished well strung out.
Value of the form?: The runner-up had another crack at Pinatubo at Goodwood the following month (see next race) before landing the Group 3 Round Tower Stakes at the Curragh on his latest start. Harpocrates, the fifth, has since finished a neck second in the Acomb Stakes at York.
Date: July 30. Track: Goodwood. Distance: 7f
Race: Qatar Vintage Stakes (Group Two)
Runners: 11. Going: standard. Price: 6-4.
Martin Dixon and Angus McNae on the "performance at the week" at Glorious Goodwood
A dazzling display with Pinatubo moving smoothly into contention before forging away in the closing stages to win in an electric time. James Doyle gave him the smallest of flicks of the whip as he pulled five lengths clear of Positive.
There was the same distance back to Lopey Y Fernandez in third, with the rest left in another parish.
Above, Appleby tells Lydia Hislop that Pinatubo reseves his best for the racecourse. Below, James Doyle gives his view
Value of the form?: Positive had won on his debut and has since landed the Group Three Solario Stakes at Sandown. Lopey Y Fernandez, beaten an aggregate of ten lengths, has also subsequently won in Group Three company. Platinum Star (fifth) has subsequently easily won in Listed company. Mystery Power (sixth) had previously won the Group Two July Stakes.
Date: September 15. Track: Curragh. Distance: 7f
Race: Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (Group One)
Runners: 11. Going: good. Price: 1-3.
The Verdict: "One of the best performanes we've ever analysed" says Angus McNae
A performance that had a wow factor – Pinatubo pummelling his opponents in a time only bettered by Hawk Wing in the race’s rich history.
It was a case of the further the better as Pinatubo crossed the line nine lengths clear. William Buick was grinning like a Cheshire cat by the finish.
Value of the form?: Aidan O’Brien often runs his leading 2000 Guineas hopes in the National Stakes and he was responsible for the next pair home in Armory and Arizona.
Armory had previously been successful in the Group Two Futurity Stakes and Group Three Tyros Stakes (by five lengths), while Arizona had scooped the Group Two Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Pinatubo went into the race with an official rating of 120, while the placed horses lined up with marks of 110 and 108 to their name. Roman Turbo (seventh) also had a Group Three win to his name.
Appleby reacts to Pinatubo's fabulous display in Ireland
IS THERE ANYTHING TO SUGGEST PINATUBO WILL NOT TRAIN ON?
Pinatubo clearly came to hand early and was Appleby’s fifth two-year-old to run when lining up at Wolverhampton in the second week of May.
But he’s improved in chunks with every run and those who suspect he may nothing more than just a precocious two-year-old are surely barking up the wrong tree.
His breeding points to him improving with time and, physically, while he’s not the biggest, there is some substance to him.
Perhaps he will not be open to masses of improvement in 2020, but he has already raised the bar incredibly high for those trying to get to his level.
William Buick tells Nick Luck that "it felt as good as it looked" at the Curragh
SEVEN OTHER TOP TWO-YEAR-OLDS – HOW DID THEY FARE THE FOLLLOWING YEAR?
The two-year-old Classifications were introduced in 1978 and provide us with something of a measuring stick
The highest rating, of 130, was allocated to Arazi in 1991 and to Celtic Swing three years later. Xaar was awarded a mark of 127 and in the past decade Frankel, Dream Ahead, New Approach and Too Darn Hot have been bracketed on 126.
Pinatubo was rated 120 going into the Curragh and you would imagine is going to be up near the best of yesteryear when reassessed with an appearance in the Dewhurst still to come.
So what did the previous exalted juveniles go on to achieve?
He was unbeaten in six races and had already won three Group One race before his mesmerising performance in the 1991 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, where he weaved around rivals as if they were mannequins before motoring five lengths clear
He also won easily on his return in America but then the wheels fell off. He trailed home eighth in the Kentucky Derby before finishing only fifth in the St James’s Palace Stakes when 10-11 favourite.
Another odds-on defeat, dropped to Group Three company at Longchamp, showed that the roaring flame of the monster two-year-old had all but been extinguished a year later.
His stunning 12-length victory in the 1994 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster followed an eight-length trouncing of Singspiel at Ascot.
Singspiel went on to scale the heights and achieve an official rating of 132, but it never quite happened for Celtic Swing in four starts as a three-year-old.
He won the Greenham with something to spare on his return but he found Pennekamp too strong in the 2000 Guineas. He went one better in the French Derby, when it was run over 1m4f, but ran well below his best when eighth in the Irish Derby and did not race again.
His seven-length romp in the 1997 Dewhurst promised much but he subsequently won just once, when a workmanlike winner of the Craven on his return the following year.
Sent off at 10-11 for the 2000 Guineas, he had to settle for fourth behind King Of Kings – a first winner in the race for Aidan O’Brien.
Later in the year he finished third in the Irish Champion Stakes and, kept in training, he was runner-up in the Coral Eclipse the following summer.
His exploits as a two-year-old included a ten-length win in the Royal Lodge Stakes and a decisive success in the Dewhurst.
He continued to carry all before him for the next two seasons, his all-the-way win in the 2000 Guineas on his return in 2011 getting the ball rolling.
Sir Henry Cecil, his trainer, was among those to hail him as the greatest thoroughbred there has been. Retired to the breeding sheds unbeaten in 14 starts and has quickly made a significant impact as a stallion.
William Buick was aboard when he stormed to a nine-length victory in the 2010 Middle Park, having earlier won the Prix Morny.
The following year he confirmed himself a sprinter of the highest order, winning the July Cup and Sprint Cup before signing off with a head defeat of Goldikova in the Prix de la Foret.
New Approach was unbeaten in five starts as a two-year-old, capping his flawless campaign with successive victories in the National Stakes and Dewhurst.
He lost his unbeaten record when beaten a nose in the 2000 Guineas and he also had to settle for second in the Irish equivalent before scooping the Derby.
New Approach was a late withdrawal from the Irish Derby but returned later in the year to also scoop the Irish and English versions of the Champion Stakes.
TOO DARN HOT
Unbeaten in four starts as a two-year-old, with Advertise and Anthony Van Dyck chasing him home in the Dewhurst.
His three-year-old campaign begin with injury and defeats in the Dante, Irish 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes but he then won successive Group One races – being impressive when scoring in the Sussex Stakes.
Unfortunately, a few days later it was revealed he had sustained a career-ending injury.
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