Unbeaten three-year-old Pinatubo will put his record on the line when he fronts up for the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday.
Charlie Appleby said he “can’t fault” the star’s prep in the lead up to the Group 1 2000 Guineas despite a strong field of 14 other runners he’ll take on this weekend. Here is our Newmarket Guineas Analysis and picks.
While he will do battle with counterpart Arizona, Pinatubo will be joined by fellow Godolphin stablemates Al Suhail (James Doyle) and Military March (Hector Crouch).
William Buick will start Pinatubo from the seventh stall in what shapes as a mouthwatering race, the first British Classic of the new season, and the first sporting event in Great Britain since the coronavirus lockdown.
With current quarantine restrictions in place, a raft of Irish jockeys have been unable to cross the border, leaving trainer Aidan O’Brien to source alternative jockeys for his mounts.
In-form hoop Tom Marquand will be used by O’Brien for the first time in his career as he takes the ride on Royal Dornoch who won the Group 2 Royal Lodge over course and distance last season.
Adam Kirby will take the reins of New World Tapestry, while Frankie Dettori will sit atop Wichita.
As for Arizona – Ryan Moore has been given the green light to take O’Brien’s main hope Arizona in what poses as a showdown against the favoured Pinatubo.
But Kameko will have its big backers and shouldn’t be disregarded either – particularly with superstar pairing Oisin Murphy and Andrew Balding joining forces.
Qipco 2,000 Guineas Runners and Riders
1 Al Suhail (James Doyle), drawn
It would be easy to forget that Al Suhail is one of Charlie Appleby’s ‘other’ runners in the Guineas, but with James Doyle in the saddle, you’re getting a mixture of combativeness and finesse which holds Al Suhail in good stead. The son of Dubawi finished behind Kameko in the Solario Stakes at Sandown last August, before racing second behind another Guineas rival, Military March at Newmarket last October. He could develop into a middle-distance type but needs to improve rapidly to challenge at the business end against these contenders. Not looking for him here.
2 Arizona (Ryan Moore), drawn 13
Poses the greatest threat to Pinatubo as the two face off for the third time. While Arizona closed the gap on Pinatubo in their last showdown, he will still have to find more speed or hope Pinatubo falls short. The winner of the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot needs to reverse the form with Pinatubo following defeats at the Curragh and Newmarket. He showed an excellent turn of foot from off the pace to finish fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last November over one-mile but will need the perfect race to pip Pinatubo.
3 Cepheus (Jim Crowley), drawn 10
Currently sits in the one run, one win club but just where does Cepheus stand in this field? He wasn’t given much hope nor love when he fronted on debut at Newmarket in July last year – despite the brilliant Oisin Murphy aboard – of which nobody was surprised when it got up. The issue here is racing form and there hasn’t been any for almost a year. There’s no interest from me in this race but should be looking to place or win third-up in its prep for Brian Meehan.
4 Juan Elcano (Andrea Atzeni), drawn 14
The son of Frankel caught the eye with an impressive turn of foot to win on debut at Haydock last July for trainer Kevin Ryan. Further respectable runs when second in the Superlative Stakes and third in the Champagne Stakes which make him an interesting contender. He is another horse who needs to improve to challenge bigger runners but it has claims to sneak a placing – I’m definitely sold on the fact he’ll move into a top-five finish. Will be a very good horse to watch in a few runs time as it begins to peak.
5 Kameko (Oisin Murphy), drawn 15
Apart from Arizona, the other threat to Pinatubo is Kameko who managed two wins from four starts last season for Andrew Balding. With the little master Oisin Murphy aboard – this is a match made in heaven and between them, they could pull off an upset. Kameko stamped his authority with the Group 1 Futurity Stakes at Newcastle last November and has rapidly improved during the winter. The trip and conditions look ideal here for pulling off one hell of a heist, and with his size, stamina and ceiling for improvement – you’d be looking to back each way here.
6 Kenzai Warrior (Jason Watson), drawn 6
If there is one thing Roger Teal can do, it’s throw up a hail Mary and pull it off. He’ll be hoping for the same with Kenzai Warrior. The unbeaten son of Karakontie won his maiden at Salisbury last September before victory in the Group 3 Horris Hil at Newmarket last November. In a race where every horse is making their seasonable debuts, he might surprise a few with conditions suiting him to a tee.
7 Kinross (Harry Bentley), drawn 12
Harry Bentley had Kinross absolutely purring when the pair saluted in an end-of-season maiden at Newmarket in October – that win was by a whopping eight-lengths. As such, it went into the G1 Futurity as favourite but succumbed to Kameko and faded to fifth on that occasion. I don’t think Kinross will trouble the main contenders here, but could pop up for a placing.
8 Military March (Hector Crouch), drawn 3
His sire, New Approach came second in this exact race in 2008, so the Jim Bolger-trained Military March will be hoping to go one better. You can never quite discount the Godolphin stable and Saeed Bin Suroor has won the Guineas twice with Mark Of Esteem and Island Sands and his unbeaten runner could be a dark horse.
9 Mums Tipple (Sean Levey), drawn 1
Sent tongues wagging following an outstanding win in the Goffs UK Yearling Stakes at York in August, winning by 11 lengths after a debut win at Royal Ascot in July. It was disappointing next up against Earthlight in the Middle Park in September but can it pose a threat here in this company? I’m not sure. Long odds.
10 New World Tapestry (Adam Kirby), drawn 8
One of two Ballydoyle runners who’ll be looking to set the pace early, the son of War Front has plenty to find on form having finished behind Arizona on debut, before winning his maiden at Newmarket last September. Disappointing run in the Futurity Stakes at Newcastle and his racing style as a two-year-old suggest he will be one runner making the pace.
11 Persuasion (Kieran Shoemark), drawn 11
A lightly-raced son of Acclamation, Persuasion has crossed from the Jeremy Noseda stable to Charlie Hills where he scored his maiden win on debut at Goodwood back in August. He was disappointing in the Acomb Stakes and when fronting up to York as a favourite, he finished second behind Witchita at Newmarket. He looks out of his depth here – a top-five finish would be outstanding.
12 Pinatubo (William Buick), drawn 7
There’s not a fault in Pinatubo that can be picked out. This really is his race to lose. Charlie Appleby hasn’t waivered on the superstar’s condition and preparation and a win here is expected to be a formality rather than a hope. He’s unbeaten from six starts and that should lengthen out to seven after the weekend. If you’re going to poke holes, then perhaps one is that he is stepping up to a mile for the first time.
13 Royal Dornoch (Tom Marquand), drawn 2
The second of the Aidan O’Brien outsiders who raced seven times as a two-year-old last season, landing the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes on his final start. In and out of form throughout the 2019 campaign having finished second-last in the Prix Mory last August. The son of Gleneagles finally claimed a maiden at Gowran Park last September before finishing behind Threat at Doncaster and winning at HQ. Which Royal Dornoch will turn up on Saturday? Who knows! But I’m really eager to see what Tom Marquand can do up top.
14 Starcat (PJ McDonald), drawn 4
Hughie Morrison is renowned for many things, but if he can pull this one off with Starcat, well then we’ve seen it all. The son of Lope De Vega with P J McDonald booked to ride has only raced once. That’s right, once. His only start came at Kempton last December when securing victory on debut over one mile so he deserves his place at the post but will be long odds to pull off the impossible.
15 Wichita (Frankie Dettori), drawn 9
You can never discount Frankie Dettori on anything, and as such Wichita will demand respect. Aidan O’Brien might regard Wichita as his second-best option in this race behind Arizona, but don’t tell Dettori that. He finished behind Pinatubo and stable-mate Arizona in the Dewhurst at Newmarket last September but looks a solid each-way contender. He was impressive when winning the Tattersalls Stakes here on the Rowley Mile last September by seven-lengths and is one you cannot rule out.
Our top Newmarket Guineas Picks
12 – Pinatubo
2 – Arizona
5 – Kameko
7 – Kinross