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Champion juvenile Pinatubo officially lauded as best for 25 years


Exceptional colt Pinatubo has been recognised as the best juvenile in Europe for 25 years following the publication of the 2019 European two-year-old classifications on Wednesday, 22 January.

During a brilliant unbeaten season, the Charlie Appleby-trained Shamardal colt achieved a rating of 128, the highest mark since Celtic Swing in 1994.

Pinatubo’s six victories last year included two superb G1 successes – in the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh, Ireland, and the Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.

The homebred also posted a scintillating display in the G2 Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and smashed the seven-furlong course juvenile record at Royal Ascot when taking the Listed Chesham Stakes in dominant fashion.

He was awarded a rating of 128 for his comprehensive win in the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes, when he stormed to a commanding nine-length verdict over Armory.

The British Horseracing Authority's lead two-year-old Handicapper Graeme Smith said: "Pinatubo looked a potentially outstanding two-year-old when thrashing a competitive field in the Vintage Stakes and his next performance in the National Stakes was breathtaking – the kind you rarely see in top company – as he powered nine lengths clear of Armory and Arizona in a top-class time.

"This was one of the great two-year-old performances, and the best by any two-year-old in the last 25 years."

A truly remarkable crop of Godolphin two-year-olds in 2019 also saw two further homebred colts by Darley stallion Shamardal, both trained by Andre Fabre, graduate to G1 honours without tasting defeat.

Earthlightinfo-icon ended the year as Europe’s joint-second highest-rated juvenile with a rating of 118 following G1 wins in both the Darley Prix Morny and the Middle Park Stakes.

Victor Ludorum also earmarked himself as one of France’s most exciting colts when winning the G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere on only his second start – a performance that saw him given a mark of 114.

Mark Bird, Flat Handicapper for the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board, said: “Earthlight is the first horse to complete the Prix Morny/Middle Park Stakes double since Dream Ahead, and before him Johannesburg, so he is in very illustrious company.

“He put up his best performance in the Prix Morny on ground described as heavy. It was therefore relatively bad ground, but he beat a very strong field and it was an evenly run race. Raffle Prize, a G2 winner, was back in second and he had to give her weight. Golden Horde, a fellow G2 winner along with Arizona, who won the Coventry Stakes, were back in third and fourth, whilst Royal Ascot winner A’Ali was further back in the field. We felt that performance was better than the horse subsequently ran in the Middle Park.

“We rated him at 118 for the Prix Morny and 115 for the Middle Park. He is unbeaten and can only win so that’s not to be critical of him, but we just felt the form in France had a bit more depth.

“Whilst he is 10lb behind Pinatubo, it will be interesting to see what he does next year. His trainer thinks he would need stepping up in trip but, coming from it from a different angle and looking at how he strides, he is low to the ground and hits the ground very strongly, which suggests that he is a sprinter. It will be fascinating to see which route he goes down this year and how things turn out."

The depth of Godolphin’s two-year-old talent was further highlighted by the Saeed bin Suroor-trained New Approach colt Military March (113), who capped an unbeaten campaign with a comfortable half-length win over Al Suhail (112) in the G3 Dubai Autumn Stakes.

Graeme Smith said: “Military March will definitely develop this year – he looks every inch a three-year-old type that did well at two. He won both his races as a two-year-old and was about the most handsome horse to set foot on a racecourse last year. He is already rated 113 and has loads of growing room.

“I think he is very exciting. With my old Timeform hat on, I would have the “p” sign next to Military March’s name. He pulled well clear with another Godolphin horse at Newmarket and they both look smart. We have given him a rating of 113, but there will be plenty more to come from him over a longer trip this year.”