With no classic trials in the spring, there is only last year’s two-year-old form to go on, and one colt stood head and shoulders above the rest of his generation in 2019: Pinatubo.
Pinatubo began his career at an evening meeting at Wolverhampton last May but ended the season unbeaten in six starts, in the process becoming Timeform’s highest-rated juvenile for 25 years. The Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot revealed Pinatubo was a very promising youngster, something he confirmed with a five-length victory in the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood.
However, it was his nine-length demolition of the best Irish colts in the National Stakes at the Curragh – in an excellent time – which showed he was a two-year-old of rare merit. His final win, on softer ground in the Dewhurst Stakes, was less spectacular, but still a high-class performance and he joined an illustrious list of unbeaten colts who have ended their two-year-old season in the Dewhurst, among them his own sire Shamardal and subsequent 2000 Guineas winners Frankel and Dawn Approach.
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Not all outstanding two-year-olds train on, and Pinatubo has less physical scope than some of his rivals, but he could still win the 2000 Guineas without having to repeat the form he showed at the Curragh.
If he is beaten, the extra furlong won’t be a valid excuse as he is bred to stay further than a mile and has a notably laid-back temperament. All the evidence from last year suggests Pinatubo’s rivals will need to have made considerable improvement over the winter to trouble him.
Ballydoyle tried and failed to find a colt to beat Pinatubo all last season. Coventry Stakes winner Arizona made two attempts, finishing a well-held third in the National Stakes before making the running in the Dewhurst and forcing Pinatubo to work harder.
According to the market, Arizona is Pinatubo’s main danger, and this tall, rangy, attractive colt could be just the type to take another step forward at three.
The impressive Somerville Tattersall Stakes winner Wichita was third in the Dewhurst, possibly unsuited by the softer going that day, but, like Arizona (whose subsequent run at the Breeders’ Cup can be overlooked), he looks the type to train on well. Incidentally, Ryan Moore opted to ride Wichita in the Dewhurst so it will be interesting to see if he makes the same decision this time; Frankie Dettori is lined up to take the ride on whichever one he rejects.
Another with strong each-way claims is the Andrew Balding-trained Kameko who ended the year winning the rearranged Futurity Trophy on the all-weather at Newcastle. The strongly-run mile brought out the best in Kameko after he had met with narrow defeats previously in the Solario Stakes, and in the Royal Lodge won by Royal Dornoch, and there is no reason why he shouldn’t prove at least as good back on turf.
Kinross started favourite when fifth in the Futurity Trophy, following an impressive winning debut at Newmarket where he ran to a very high level for a newcomer. Kinross recorded an excellent timefigure on that occasion, too, which adds substance to the visual impression created. He has been the subject of positive reports, and he is well worth another chance to confirm his earlier promise.
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Godolphin have other options besides Pinatubo, though anything Military March does over a mile this year will be a bonus as he’s bred to shine over longer trips. He showed a good level of form in winning both his starts last year, notably the Autumn Stakes over the Guineas course and distance in which he gamely got the better of fellow Godolphin colt Al Suhail. Military March has attracted good support for the Derby in recent weeks – he is now a general 7/1 favourite for the race – and a bold showing here will undoubtedly see his odds contract further.
VERDICT: On all known form Pinatubo will be very hard to beat, an outstanding two-year-old who has already achieved a level of form good enough to win every renewal of the 2000 Guineas since Frankel’s memorable success in 2011. Arizona and Kameko look the pair most likely to be fighting it out for the places, while it would be no surprise were Kinross to bounce back also.