By Jon Lees
GB: Connections of leading Classic hope Kameko are “frantic” for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas and Investec Derby to go ahead – even if it means pushing the dates of the races back by a month.
Qatar Racing manager David Redvers warned that the 2020 Flat Turf season, currently in suspension until the end of April due to the coronavirus pandemic, could suffer major consequences if the Classics and Royal Ascot are not staged.
And with the rate of COVID-19 deaths in Britain continuing to rise, he fears it is looking increasingly unlikely that the 2,000 Guineas will go ahead as scheduled on May 2, the day after the BHA are planning for racing to resume.
“I think the best hope we can have at the moment is that we literally put the entire season back a month, what we call the British Champions Series season, starting with the Guineas Festival and finishing with British Champions Day,” said Redvers.
“You have that as a basis for recovery, making sure we are not totally devaluing two generations of horses,” he added. “If you can’t run the Classics then the Pattern is thrown right up in the air and everything is devalued.
“Whoever you are, if you are in the bloodstock business at all, it is incredibly important that we have each generation of horses tested against their own. If that all goes by the wayside, then you are devaluing two generations of horses and putting five in jeopardy because people will lose so much money on the production line that many won’t be able to keep going.”
Redvers added: “I think they are going to be able to start some form of racing in May but it is going to be heavily restricted and behind closed doors. I can’t see the Guineas happening when it should do – there isn’t the appetite unfortunately with mounting numbers of deaths.”
The Andrew Balding-trained Kameko, who is second favourite for the Derby, has many similarities to Roaring Lion, who after finishing fifth in the 2018 2,000 Guineas and third in the Derby recorded a G1 four-timer in the Eclipse, Juddmonte International, Irish Champion and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
Like Roaring Lion, he is a son of Kitten’s Joy and both finished first or second in the Royal Lodge and Vertem Futurity Stakes at two.
“From our own personal point of view obviously we have the second top rated two-year-old in Europe last year, who benefited from some slightly lateral thinking when the Vertem Futurity was run on the all-weather,” said Redvers.
“He is hugely exciting and a potential stallion. Horses like him and Roaring Lion finance an entire operation. That is what my clients are doing this for, to find horses like him. If they can’t be tested and can’t reach their true value, good or bad, then it has enormous knock-on effects.
“Obviously we are frantic that we get an opportunity to see him running in a 2,000 Guineas that is relevant. I don’t think a 2,000 Guineas can be run at any other time than three weeks before the Derby so that it can have a relevance on the Derby or the St James’s Palace or whatever else.
“Kameko is in extremely good form,” he went on. “Andrew was planning on having him ready for a trial in ten days’ time. That is on hold while we see what happens over the next ten days because this is such a fluid and fast- moving problem. Every single day there is an upbeat or downbeat set of statistics.”
Kameko is not the only exciting colt in the ranks of Qatar Racing, a subsidiary of Qipco Holding, representing the racing ownership interests of Sheikh Fahad Al Thani and his brothers.
There are also high hopes for Ascot maiden winner Enemy and Mahomes, a son of Dubawi out of The Fugue who cost a million guineas and has been named after the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl-winning quarterback Patrick Mahomes II by NFL fan Sheikh Fahad.
Redvers said: “We have horses like Enemy of John Gosden’s, who is also an extremely exciting horse who would have Classic aspirations, and some nice fillies as well.
“We’ve got some unbelievable ammunition with Mr Gosden at the moment. A Dubawi built like Mahomes is, at this part of the season we wouldn’t expect to see for at least another two to three months. He has a stallion’s pedigree; he was an expensive yearling, as you would expect, but John was showering him with nice words the last time we discussed him.”
He added: “There is plenty to look forward to but we are all in limbo. We have just got to hope that the powers-that-be are going to get this show back on the road at some point and not be too terrified of public perception and more concerned about stopping the business going bankrupt.”