‘He knows when the gates open it’s game on’ – trainers on their 2,000 Guineas hopes

Horse Racing Pinatubo Vintage Stakes 2,000 Guineas
Pinatubo: “The ultimate professional”. Photo: Godolphin

GB: The first British Classic of the season, the Qipco 2,000 Guineas, takes place at Newmarket on Saturday (3.35 BST) featuring the eagerly awaited three-year-old debut of Godolphin’s Pinatubo, the highest-rated juvenile since Celtic Swing in 1994.

Update: 2,000 Guineas – here’s the takeaway after Kameko bossed them at Newmarket

The Charlie Appleby-trained colt will take on a field that includes Vertem Futurity winner Kameko and a four-strong Aidan O’Brien team headed by Arizona. Here’s what the trainers of some leading contenders had to say to the QIPCO British Champions Series press team …

Shall we talk about it?

Al Suhail
 “He’s an exciting horse and I think he will be a player, but we will see more improvement when he steps up in trip. He is right up to Classic standard, and I expect him to acquit himself well but I think he will be even better over a longer trip. I expect him to be running on, doing his best work at the finish. He has an Epsom pedigree top and bottom. Both his sire and dam were placed in Classics there, so if he runs well in the Guineas, it is logical to be thinkIng of the Derby.”
Charlie Appleby (trainer)

“Arizona’s been the horse on everyone’s mind all along and everyone is happy with him. He’s in good form and everything has gone well with him. He’s a big, rangy, scopey horse who we always thought would improve from two to three.
“He’s by No Nay Never, who is an influence for speed, but he was always coming home well in his races last year and we always thought a mile was going to be well within his grasp.”
Aidan O’Brien (trainer)

“Kameko looks magnificent and is a lovely horse to have anything to do with. I hope and think he’s best we’ve had here for a good long while. He’s had three or four serious pieces of work since mid-March, albeit at staggered times, and his preparation is as good as it could have been. I couldn’t be happier with him.
“If we had our time again I would have been a little tougher on him leading into the Royal Lodge [in which Kameko was beaten a neck by Royal Dornoch] and I think Oisin [Murphy] would have sat on him a bit longer. It was a combination of circumstances that didn’t suit the horse.”
Andrew Balding (trainer)

Kenzai Warrior
“We know what we are up against. Pinatubo is the highest-rated two-year-old for ages and if he’s trained on then he’s going to be mighty hard to beat. I know Andrew Balding is very keen on his horse [Kameko] and, of course, you can never rule out the Aidan O’Brien team. I was hoping they might not be allowed over but if we are going to win it, then we might as well beat the best!
“He had his final little blow over six furlongs yesterday (Tuesday) morning and went very nicely. It’s not been straightforward and I imagine most horses will benefit for the run, but he seems very well and I’m happy that he is fit enough to do himself justice.
“I feel he will be suited by a step up in trip but hopefully he can run well and then go for the Derby. ”
Roger Teal (trainer)

“I don’t want to sound too confident but he’s the highest-rated two-year-old for 25 years, looks great, won on all ground and on that [Rowley Mile] track. He’s not a horse that will light you up too much in the mornings but is the ultimate professional, like any sportsman at the top end. He’s got a great mind on him and he knows that when the gates open it’s ‘game on’.
“We are delighted with the way he has strengthened and I think people will be pleasantly surprised by what they see on Saturday. I’d rather much have a neat-sized and balanced horse like he is going into these early Classics. He’s met every challenge that we have asked in his preparation.”
Charlie Appleby (trainer)

• Find out more at the QIPCO British Champions Series website

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