If Pinatubo has ‘trained on’ he may be a once in a generation horse with the ability to turn this into a procession. There is, of course, no reason to believe that he hasn’t – he is firm in the market and Charlie Appleby clearly has a spring in his step. Certainly it would be a touching tribute to the recently deceased Shamardal if his son delivers a first British Classic for his illustrious sire.
Therefore, based on the available data and a touch of sentiment, he is a worthy favourite and the likely winner. As a two year old he was rated as better than Frankel and, on that basis, the clever bet might be to take the 5-2 available for a win in excess of two lengths – given that the basic win price is prohibitive.
However, whilst some have dismissed this race as the Pinatubo show, I think there is sport to be had here. In my mind there is at least one horse who might turn out to be as special as Pinatubo has already proven himself to be.
That horse is the charge of Suroor bin Suroor – Military March. This stunning looking son of New Approach looked very impressive when beating Appleby’s second string, Al Suhail, over this course last October earning himself an OR of 113 in only his second race. The first two home left good colts, such as Ropey Guest and Molatham, trailing in their wake, and, it took Oisin Murphy a couple of furlongs to pull him up after he passed the post with plenty left in the tank. I have backed Military March ante post for the Derby and was feeling very good about that until I saw English King beat a very good Balding horse in fine style yesterday – it is going to be a very good race. However, his Derby credentials mean that he will stay every inch of the Rowley Mile and, given that there is likely to be a strong pace, I have been very happy to back Military March, at 20-1, each way to give Pinatubo a run for his money. Oisin Murphy has switched to Kameko (more on him later) but Hector Crouch is an able deputy.
Only a fool would rule out the possibility of Aidan O’Brien adding to his record collection of 2,000 Guineas wins and he has four entries today. Several top tipsters are sweet on the chances of Arizona and Wichita steered, respectively, by Ryan Moore and Frankie Dettori. However, they are both progeny of No, Nay, Never and I have my doubts that they can stay well enough through that final uphill furlong to beat top class horses of the type they will face today. One of O’Brien’s other entrants, Royal Dornoch, does have the right breeding being by Gleneagles and he is already a course and distance winner. He is, also, well drawn and has Marquand atop – so he might be capable of springing a surprise. Ultimately, I don’t think he’ll be good enough for this but one of my betting systems involves following Gleneagles progeny fairly slavishly so I will have a small each way saver at the very attractive odds available. I can’t get excited about O’Brien’s other entrant, New World Tapstry, but we all remember what happened with Sovereign in last year’s Irish Derby…..
A very interesting entrant is Richard Hannon’s Mum’s Tipple. I find his huge price remarkable given that his rating of 118 made him the second highest rated two year old behind Pinatubo. He won his first race at Ascot before going on to trounce a good field by 11 lengths at York. The reason for his long odds must be his disappointing finale in the Juddmonte behind Earthlight. However, he pulled up lame after that race so I have drawn a line through it. Hannon is convinced that he has trained on and, at 33-1, he is surely worth a small each way interest.
Oisin Murphy has previously ridden many of the leading contenders but has opted to ride Kameko today. Balding’s stable is in red hot form and Kameko impressed winning the Vertem Futurity at Newcastle at the end of last season. However, I have decided against him for a few reasons. Firstly, his breeding would suggest that he would have been better suited to the all weather track at Newcastle than most of those behind him which might mean that the victory is over rated. Secondarily, he is drawn on the far side and, whilst there is the possibility that the rail will help him, the statistics indicate that most winners come from the lower draws. Finally, I would point to his performance in the Juddmonte, when he was narrowly beaten by Royal Dornoch. I just got the impression that the course didn’t quite suit him and, whilst, he looked the type to develop further as a three year old, he is not my idea of the winner.
Ralph Beckett has an excellent record at Newmarket and he is very sweet about his runner Kinross. He is a son of Kingman out of Celidh House, a Selkirk filly that Beckett trained, so is well bred for this. Kinross made an astonishing debut at Newmarket last October slaughtering a decent field by eight lengths after quickening impressively under a hands and heels ride by Harry Bentley. He went off a warm favourite for the Vertem Futurity but was well beaten into fifth by Kameko. However, there were a number of sound excuses. He was still a bit green, he got into a barging match early doors and, of course, he would not be the first high quality horse to not enjoy battling his way up the hill at Newcastle. He could be anything and should not be ruled out – one negative is that none of Beckett’s runners this week made an impression although it might be too early to draw many conclusions from that.
Of the others, Al Suhail must be considered very decent for Charlie Appleby to put him up as his second string and this son of Dubawi will certainly be a contender. However, I can see no logical reason why he would reverse placings with Military March. Juan Elcano is a son of Frankel so will have his backers at long odds but the historic evidence is that he is not a likely winner. Roger Teal is waxing lyrical about Kenzai Warrior but, to me, he doesn’t look good enough for this based on what we’ve seen so far. Starcat won a race at Kempton towards the end of last year beating horses from Godolphin and Gosden into second and third, and, the fourth and fifth have subsequently won – he may also interest backers looking for a long shot. That leaves Cepheus and Persuasion as the two I have not previously mentioned – neither have caught my eye.