2,000 Guineas: here’s the takeaway after Kameko bosses them at Newmarket

Horse Racing Kameko
Kameko: floored Pinatubo to give Oisin Murphy his first Classic success in Britain.
Photo: Qipco British Champions Series

By Nicholas Godfrey

So you know Kameko won the Qipco 2,000 Guineas, postponed five weeks until June 6, and you’ve probably seen the race – but here’s some other stuff you might want to know.

What’s going on?

Kameko: no Derby decision but Balding is keen

After his 2,000 Guineas victory, Kameko is favourite all round at about 4-1 for the Investec Derby on July 4. Although there was no immediate green light for the Epsom Classic, trainer Andrew Balding said the race was his preference.

The Derby: ‘I am massively excited, he ticks a lot of boxes’ – trainers on their runners

“There is only one Derby and I would be very keen to go that way,” he said. “There are mixed messages on his pedigree and probably his optimum trip would be a mile and a quarter but I think he could stay a mile and a half at Epsom. To me it looks the obvious choice – there would be a stamina doubt but there’s only one way to find out.”

Derby betting (Coral): 4 (from 8) Kameko, 9-2 English King, 7 Military March, 8 Mogul, 14 Al Suhail, Palace Pier, 16 Waldkonig, 20 Armory, First Receiver, Highest Ground, Innisfree, Mythical.

Royal Ascot likely for Pinatubo

A disappointed Charlie Appleby nominated the St James’s Palace Stakes for last year’s superstar juvenile after the odds-on favourite suffered the first defeat of his career. “He’s had a normal blow after that and we’ll take him home, but the first impression would be to take him to the St James’s Palace Stakes,” he said.

British Horseracing Authority chief regulatory officer Brant Dunshea confirmed that Pinatubo will have to pass a stalls test before he is allowed to run again.

Stalls test for Pinatubo

Trainer Charlie Appleby used his third ‘late notice’ in a 12-month period requesting Pinatubo be loaded up late, which means a mandatory stalls test.

While that necessity could raise an issue as there are no such tests are permitted at the moment during the coronavirus pandemic, Dunshea said there were plans to introduce them again next week, perhaps at racecourses which are hosting racing. “There are lots of trainers in a similar situation,” said Dunshea.

Sheikh Fahad wins his own prize-money … in record time

Kameko carries the well-known scarlet-and-gold silks of Qatar Racing, a subsidiary of race sponsors Qipco Holdings, representing the racing interests of Sheikh Fahad Al Thani and his brothers. Kameko’s winning Guineas time of 1m34.72s was the fastest in the Classic’s long history.

Balding does dad proud

In saddling Kameko, trainer Andrew Balding succeeded where his father Ian did not, the latter’s reverses in the Newmarket Classic having included Mill Reef, beaten by a fellow great in Brigadier Gerard in the celebrated 1971 edition before going on to Derby success and a famous three-year-old campaign.

“One of the big regrets of his training career was not winning a 2,000 Guineas,” said Andrew. “It’s a good one to get on the CV.”

Oisin Murphy: The boy done good

Much of the praise after Kameko’s success was directed towards his popular rider Oisin Murphy, who has been active promoting the sport on social media and elsewhere in his role as champion jockey.

“Oisin has been an amazing asset to racing,” agreed trainer Andrew Balding, to whom Murphy was apprenticed. “For us to give him his first Classic winner is special.”

Close to tears

The 24-year-old champion jockey was in emotional mood after his first British Classic success on Kameko – in the colours of his retainer Sheikh Fahad for his mentor Andrew Balding.

“This means the absolute world to me,” he said. “It’s the stuff of dreams – and to do it with a son of Kitten’s Joy, the sire of Roaring Lion, you couldn’t make it up!

“I had to stop myself crying and that’s not something I’m very proud of,” he went on. “There is no atmosphere but it means just as much to me. The only two people shouting were Frankie and I. When I look back at this race I won’t remember there was no crowd there. I will remember how Kameko gave me my first Qipco 2,000 Guineas winner and that would be the most special thing.”

Two-day whip ban

It wasn’t all beer and skittles for Oisin Murphy: he got a two-day whip ban for striking Kameko above the permitted level (nine times) inside the final furlong and will be suspended on June 21-22.

Kenzai Warrior stumbles at start

There was drama at the start involving outsider Kenzai Warrior, who lost all chance when nearly unshipping Jason Watson – set to ride 1,000 Guineas favourite Quadrilateral on Sunday – as they exited the stalls. 

Watson, who did well to maintain the partnership, told the stewards the Horris Hill winner “flyleapt and stumbled shortly after the start”.

Shall we talk about it?

Andrew Balding (trainer): “Obviously it’s quite surreal this year but I don’t feel any less elation than if there had been 500,000 people here. I’m thrilled to bits.
He’s a machine in everything he does. He eats, sleeps and works faster than anything you put him with and that’s all you can ask. He was always professional last year but always a bit raw. He improved with racing and I’d hope that would be the same this year.
He was really tough today because he got a bit disorganised and things didn’t go entirely right in the last quarter of the race but he’s come out well on top and he wasn’t exactly blowing hard.
We have to let David [Redvers, racing manager], Sheikh Fahad and Oisin all put in their opinions.He will certainly get a mile and a quarter, but there is a certain race over a mile and a half in July that would be quite appealing.”

Oisin Murphy (jockey, Kameko): “ It’s an unbelievable feeling, a huge relief. He hardly blew a candle out there for a horse that’s just won a championship race. He must have a tremendous amount of ability.
This is the very top. I am only 24. I’ve always said the Arc and the Derby are my two favourite races. That hasn’t changed but this is a stallion-making race and a very important result. Sheikh Fahad is a sporting person and I am sure Andrew would like to emulate what his father did with Mill Reef.”

Sheikh Fahad Al Thani (owner, Kameko): “To be able to win the Qipco 2,000 Guineas in our tenth year of sponsorship is just incredible and to be the fastest-ever Guineas in history even more special. I remember watching Frankel win in our first year of sponsorship.
“I would like to thank my amazing team and especially Oisin for giving Kameko such a sensational ride. This gives me and my family a huge amount of pleasure and pride.”

Charlie Appleby (trainer, Pinatubo): “Pinatubo travelled well into the race there when he had Frankie’s horse (Wichita) as his target, but when he made his move he got up to their girths and just didn’t go any further forward.
“Obviously I’m disappointed as it’s the first time the horse has been beaten in his career, but at least he hasn’t fallen out of the back of the telly. He’s had a normal blow after that and we’ll take him home, but the first impression would be to take him to the St James’s Palace Stakes.”

Roger Teal (trainer, Kenzai Warrior): “Well, that didn’t go to plan. We have had such great support and we are so appreciative –I know some of you had a flutter so I’m sorry you didn’t get a run for your money. Pleased to announce he came back in fine fettle and we will decide on a race at Royal Ascot.”

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