31 May 2020

Pinatubo just one to watch in high-profile first week back for racing

31 May 2020

Racing will waste little time before hitting the heights after the sport’s eagerly-awaited return to action on Monday following the coronavirus shutdown. It will all be behind doors, but there will be lots of high-class fare for viewers at home – including the 2000 Guineas and 1000 Guineas on Saturday and Sunday.

Here, we look at seven horses that promise to make the headlines in the first week:


Pinatubo completed the perfect season with victory in the Dewhurst Stakes (PA Archive)

The Charlie Appleby-trained colt carried all before him as a juvenile and ended the campaign with an official rating of 128 – some 10lb more than any of his rivals and officially making the son of Shamardal the highest-rated two-year-old since Celtic Swing (1994) and Arazi (1991) were each rated 130. For further context, Frankel was given a figure of 126 at the end of his first season, so the big question has to be can he live up to the hype? We will find out in the 2000 Guineas.


Quadrilateral (left) finished strongly to pick up Group One spoils in the Fillies' Mile (PA Archive)

Not blessed with the profile of Pinatubo, but not many were last season, she brings strong claims to the table in the 1000 Guineas. Roger Charlton’s filly did little wrong on her debut before really impressing next time out and then heading to the Fillies’ Mile over the Classic course and distance. Victory at one stage looked unlikely, but Jason Watson got a nice gap when he needed it and his mount really did come home well. With stamina assured and class probably not in doubt, she must be the one to beat.


Stradivarius has carried all before him in the staying division over the last two seasons (PA Archive)

John Gosden and owner Bjorn Nielsen have their sights firmly set on a hat-trick of victories in the Ascot Gold Cup with their superstar stayer and are set to take in a prep run to blow away any cobwebs. It is an intriguing one, too, coming in the Coronation Cup, which this year has switched to Newmarket on Friday. It will be a first run at a mile and a half for Stradivarius since he was beaten in a handicap at Chester in May 2017, but he is a different horse now. And who knows, if he shines he might yet cross swords with dual Arc-winning stablemate Enable at some stage this year. What a prospect that would be.

Born With Pride

There has been a real buzz about the William Haggas-trained filly since she made her winning debut in Listed company at Newmarket in November. She stayed on most takingly over the mile and the always-understated Haggas has spoken in very encouraging terms about her since. The Oaks is the target and the 10-furlong Classic Trial at Kempton on Wednesday will tell everyone whether she is the real deal. The suspicion is she might be.

Billesdon Brook

Billesdon Brook was a shock 1000 Guineas winner but has proved her worth since (PA Archive)

A 66-1 winner of the 1000 Guineas two years ago, Richard Hannon’s charge returned to do her connections proud again last season. She took a couple of runs to find her feet, but found her stride from there and eventually picked up another Group One, courtesy of the Sun Chariot Stakes. She promises to add further lustre to the Kempton meeting on Wednesday, where she goes in the Snowdrop Fillies’ Stakes.


A'Ali showed he had speed to burn last year, winning at Royal Ascot (PA Archive)

He was a real two-year-old type last year, powering to victory in the Norfolk Stakes, Flying Childers and Prix Robert Papin. A line can be put through his disappointing run in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita and his appearance at Newcastle on Thursday is being used as a stepping stone to another trip to Royal Ascot, in all probability for the Commonwealth Cup. Simon Crisford now shares the training licence with his son, Ed, and they will definitely want to get off to a flying start.

Palace Pier

The twice-raced colt was trading as second-favourite to Pinatubo in ante-post lists on the 2000 Guineas, but it seems Gosden and connections are taking a more low-key approach to his three-year-old campaign and are looking at a Newcastle handicap on Saturday instead. That will have come as a blow to those who had supported him for Classic glory, of course, but it is entirely possible the more patient beginning might pay a handsome dividend a little later, perhaps in the St James’s Palace Stakes.

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