Appleby: Derby tilt for Pinatubo depends on Guineas performance
Charlie Appleby is playing his cards close to his chest over plans for odds-on Qipco 2,000 Guineas favourite Pinatubo but suggested a Derby tilt will depend on how he finishes the race.
Last season's champion juvenile is a 10-11 favourite for the first Classic of the season on June 6 but he also heads the market for the 1m4f Investec Derby, set to be run at Epsom on July 4.
"The races are coming thick and fast and we'll have to see what comes to the table," the trainer said.
"If he wins the Guineas by three or four lengths we would probably look at the St James's Palace [at Royal Ascot, June 20] but if he just wins or, God forbid, gets beat then it could suggest a step up in trip will suit him."
Pinatubo was unbeaten in six starts last season, including in a nine-length demolition in the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh.
"He's the ultimate professional," said Appleby. "He's like any top-level sportsman. You generally don't see them fretting coming into championship competitions and it's often the cool, calm characters who are able to turn up with their A-game on the big days.
"Pinatubo is the same. He does not light you up too much in the mornings but he's professional. He goes about his business and does what's asked of him. He's met every challenge we've set him so far."
Appleby does not believe stepping up to a mile for the first time next month will pose a problem for Pinatubo, who already has form at Newmarket having won the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes last October.
"I don't want to sound too confident but he's pleasing us," said Appleby, who suggested the draw is his main concern. "He's the highest-rated juvenile for 25 years and he looks great. He's won on all ground, he's won at the track and he's tactically versatile.
"I don't see the trip as a problem either because he's got natural pace. He showed that in the final half-furlong of the Dewhurst. It was definitely a challenge after a long season but he rose to it.
"We're delighted with the way he's strengthened and I think people will be pleasantly surprised by what they see at Newmarket. I'd rather have a neat-sized and balanced horse for the early Classics."
A similarly positive review was provided by jockey William Buick, who partnered Pinatubo in a piece of work at Chelmsford last week.
"There's progression left in him," said Buick, who singled Pinatubo out as the best two-year-old he's ever ridden. "He's a joy to ride and has the temperament to go with it. He's very adaptable too."
Trainers across the country have had to adjust the way they prepare their star names due to the cessation of racing in March but Appleby said he never planned to give his stable star a prep run.
"We all knew what the picture was going into March," said Appleby. "We knew it was going to become challenging and that we may have to slow down. I didn't push him as early as you sometimes need to."
Appleby does not plan to provide a pacemaker for Pinatubo but added that Al Suhail, runner-up in the Autumn Stakes at Newmarket last season, could take his chance alongside his stablemate.
"The plan is to run him. He’s exciting and he'll be a player but we'll see more improvement when he steps up in trip," added Appleby.
The trainer will be represented by Ghaiyyath in the Coronation Cup on June 5, while Listed winner Summer Romance is set to take her chance in the Qipco 1,000 Guineas two days later.
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