Champion juvenile colt elect Pinatubo simply can’t be opposed for the feature race at Newmarket on Saturday, the 7f Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes (15:30).
Trained by Charlie Appleby for leading owners Godolphin, this son of Shamardal sets a clear and obvious standard on all known form. Pinatubo has won all five career starts impressively.
After being pushed clear to land an all-weather novice contest on debut at Wolverhampton, he followed-up in the Woodcote Stakes at Epsom.
There were signs that Pinatubo didn’t really handle that track, but he won well anyway.
Connections then stepped him up in class and trip for the Listed 7f Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The way Pinatubo ran on strongly and drew clear in the final half-furlong suggested he could be very special.
That view was confirmed on his penultimate start in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes during Glorious Goodwood.
Pinatubo again quickened clear and ran on strongly, slamming the re-opposing Positive (a winner since) by five lengths. He looked a Group 1 performer in the making.
As Pinatubo turned the National Stakes on Irish Champions Weekend into a procession last time out, he’s the one to beat.
He absolutely bolted up at The Curragh, routing some of the best juveniles on that side of the Irish Sea by nine lengths.
It was as an authoritative display as you’re ever likely to see in a Group 1 race. The smile on jockey William Buick’s face told the story.
Off the back of that scintillating display, the BHA have given Pinatubo an official mark of 128. That rating is a whole stone clear of anything else in the Dewhurst Stakes this year.
Despite cramped odds of 4/11 with Ladbrokes, Pinatubo is the one to beat. His rivals are playing for places in-behind.
Wichita the forecast choice and pick of O’Brien quartet
As the sole course and distance winner in the nine-runner line-up, Wichita looks next best for Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien.
The Ballydoyle maestro has won four of the last six renewals of the Dewhurst Stakes. O’Brien is up against something very special here, however.
In Wichita, he has a No Nay Never colt that has won two of his three outings.
After getting up in the final strides to land a 7f Curragh maiden by a head under hands and heels on debut, he was then held half-a-length by Molatham in a Listed affair at Doncaster.
Although there were no excuses, it was the manner in which Wichita scored last time out that puts him second behind Pinatubo in the market.
He bolted up by seven lengths in the Group 3 Tattersalls Stakes here during the Cambridgeshire meeting. Wichita pressed the leader, then took up the running when going best approaching two out.
As he was ridden well clear in the final furlong for a decisive victory and clearly handles the Rowley Mile course with its famous dip, this was a taking display.
This demands more, however, and Wichita hasn’t faced anything like the calibre of Pinatubo in his short racing career so far.
Experience of the track is an obvious plus, but that alone isn’t sufficient to oppose the red-hot jolly. Given connections, it would be no surprise to see further improvement.
For that reason, Wichita is respected but looks booked for second place at odds of 4/1 with Boylesports in this.
O’Brien saddles three others in this Dewhurst Stakes renewal, but Arizona was well behind Pinatubo last time out.
Monarch Of Egypt and Year Of The Tiger, meanwhile, have to bounce back from below par runs.
Positive overpriced in Dewhurst Stakes
As Positive franked Pinatubo’s Goodwood form by winning last time out, he looks one to consider each-way for trainer Clive Cox.
This son of Dutch Art is two from three career starts and scored by five lengths on debut at Salisbury.
He was then far from disgraced when chasing home Pinatubo in the Vintage and beaten by a similar margin.
Positive kept on and got nearer than anything else in the Dewhurst Stakes field has to Pinatubo from previous meetings.
That performance saw him sent off odds-on when eased in grade for the Group 3 Solario Stakes at Sandown.
After being held-up off the pace, Positive made progress approaching two out and led just before the final furlong.
Although then challenged, he dug deep and found enough to hold on by a nose from Kameko. It was a gutsy display from Positive and he looks sure to come on for that tussle.
This is tougher but, with the Irish contingent scratching their heads wondering how to beat Pinatubo, he may just sneak into a place. Positive is 16/1 with Bethard for the Dewhurst Stakes.