Pinatubo had claims to be the season’s leading two-year-old to this point, and he can be regarded as the clear no.1 after a spectacular triumph in the £200,000 G2 Qatar Vintage Stakes.
Bred by Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation, and trained for it by Charlie Appleby, Pinatubo followed up his victory in Royal Ascot’s Listed Chesham Stakes with a runaway victory on the Sussex Downs, beating a classy field hollow. Sent off the 6/4 favourite he won by five lengths and five lengths from the Clive Cox-trained Positive (12/1) and Lope Y Fernandez (9/2), from Aidan O’Brien’s stable. Pinatubo, who is a son of Darley stallion Shamardal [who won this race in 2004], beat Lope Y Fernandez by three and a quarter lengths at Royal Ascot, so to increase that margin three-fold was highly impressive.
After a post-race debrief from winning jockey James Doyle, Appleby said: “You can see from watching him walk around that he’s a laid-back character. He’s like an old horse.
“I said to Giuseppe, who rides him every day, ‘Will he be alright on this ground?’ and he said ‘No problem’. You really can’t get excited watching him on the gallops in the mornings, but it’s what he does in the afternoons on the racecourse that is so special.
“As James said, “I just wheeled him out there [to take up the running], and when I did he came sharply back on the bridle and just wanted to go forward, so I let him”. We’ve seen acceleration on his three most recent starts – when you think of what he did at Epsom, when a horse got loose on the front end and was always going to come back, but he showed great acceleration that day and again at Royal Ascot.
“Going forward I’ll speak to His Highness, Sheikh Mohammed, about plans, and we thought we might have been a bit bold coming here, but the [G1] National Stakes [at the Curragh, September 15] is probably a likely target, and from what we’ve seen today that should be okay.
“He’s a horse who takes his racing so well, so I wouldn’t want to put a bar to say that after the National we’d pull up, or that we might run him again in the Dewhurst Stakes. We’ll take one step at a time, but after retiring Blue Point [who landed a G1 sprint double at Royal Ascot and is now set for a career as a Darley stallion] I’ve been looking for another good one, and may have found him.
“On the dam’s side there’s plenty of stamina – she’s a Dalakhani mare – and one thing I said to James today was ‘Keep it simple, let’s not be clever and think we’ve got gears, and just let him roll along’. Box-seat him was the plan, and if they drop away let him go on, because I’m sure this horse will get a mile. He’s got a good head, he relaxes and gets into a lovely rhythm.”
Pinatubo is a good-looking horse and well put together, but he’s not the biggest. Appleby said: “I’d rather have a good little’un than a big bad’un. Seriously, there will be some class horses out there who haven’t been seen on the racecourse yet – backward, scopier types – but he has good shoulders on him and a big back end. I see no reason why he shouldn’t be a three-year-old.”