Dubai: A trio of incredibly exciting colts raced by Dubai’s all-powerful Godolphin stable will on Saturday bid to win the 2,000 Guineas (Group 1), the first of Britain’s five Classics, which will be held behind closed doors at a vigilant Newmarket Racecourse in England.
Pinatubo and Al Suhail race out of Charlie Appleby’s thriving Moulton Paddocks while Military March represents two-time Guineas-winning handler Saeed Bin Surour.
The Godolphin runners, of which the unbeaten Pinatubo is the ante-post favourite, face 12 rivals led by last year’s Royal Ascot winner from Ireland, Arizona.
Bin Surour last won the colt’s Classic back in 1999 with Island Sand’s having previously captured the prestigious trophy with Mark of Esteem in 1996.
Godolphin also won the event in 2013 with the Jim Bolger-trained Dawn Approach, who was following up on impressive wins in the Coventry, Vincent O’Brien and Dewhurst Stakes as a two-year-old.
Pinatubo also won two of these races during an outstanding 2019 season where he was unbeaten in six starts and became the highest-rated juvenile in 25 years with a magic number of 128 which similarly awarded to three of Europe’s top horses, Enable, Crystal Ocean and Waldgeist by the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings.
The highest marks given to a juvenile were in 1991 and 1994 when Arazi and Celtic Swing respectively delivered some breathtaking performances.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s 2,000 Guineas, Appleby said: “Pinatubo is not a horse that will light you up too much in the mornings but is the ultimate professional, like any sportsman at the top end. He’s got a great mind on him and he knows that when the gates open it’s game on.”
The Shamardal colt, who is named after a volcano in the Philippines, can give Derby-winning handler Appleby a maiden victory in the race.
“We are delighted with the way he has strengthened and I think people will be pleasantly surprised by what they see on Saturday,” he said. “I’d rather much have a neat-sized and balanced horse like he is going into these early Classics. He’s met every challenge that we have asked in his preparation.”
Appleby also believes Al Suhail can be a player in the race but cautioned the is he open to more improvement when he steps up in trip.
Military March might not have the same experience as Pinatubo or some of the other runners having only raced twice in his career, winning his maiden at Newmarket in July and following up with a narrow victory over Al Suhail in the Group 3 Autumn Stakes in October.
Assessing his colt’s chances Bin Suroor said: “Military March did very well as a two-year-old, winning both his starts including a G3 race. We gave him a break over the winter and have been very pleased with him since he came back in. I was very happy with his final piece of work earlier this week and he looks ready to go.
“It looks as though he is a horse who will need further, but he shows plenty of speed and this is a nice starting point for his season. He looks much stronger compared to last year and I’m hoping for a big run.”
Roger Teal, been training since 2007 and has about 40 horses in his yard this year is represented by 25/1 outsider Kenzai Warrior.
He had this to say about his chances of winning a first Guineas trophy
“We know what we are up against,” he said in Sporting Life. “Pinatubo is the highest-rated two-year-old for ages — even higher than Frankel — and if he’s trained on then he’s going to be mighty hard to beat.
“I know Andrew Balding is very keen on his horse [Kameko] and, of course, you can never rule out the Aidan O’Brien team.
“I was hoping they might not be allowed over but if we are going to win it, then we might as well beat the best!”
Aidan O’Brien the most successful trainer in the race with 10 wins, said of 5/1 second favourite Arizona: “Arizona’s been the horse on everyone’s mind all along and everyone is happy with him.
“He’s in good form and everything has gone well with him. He’s a big, rangy, scopey horse who we always thought would improve from two to three.
“He’s by No Nay Never, who is an influence for speed, but he was always coming home well in his races last year and we always through a mile was going to be well within his grasp.”
The Guineas card boasts 10 races including the Group 2 1,800 metres Dahlia Stakes for fillies and mares.