It wouldn’t have been the greatest surprise had Pinatubo’s presence in Saturday’s Darley Dewhurst Stakes scared off the opposition, given how dominant Godolphin’s unbeaten juvenile has been this season.
But Coolmore’s decision to fork out £40,000 to supplement exciting colt Wichita for the prestigious Newmarket Group 1 prize surely suggests the son of No Nay Never is considered capable of laying down a major challenge to Pinatubo’s juvenile crown.
Wichita, a hugely impressive 11-length Tattersall Stakes winner at the Cambridgeshire meeting, has been installed a 4/1 clear second favourite behind red-hot market leader Pinatubo, a general 1/3 chance to bag his second top-flight prize.
Armory’s heavy defeat to Pinatubo in the National Stakes last month has left the door open at the top of Coolmore’s juvenile pecking order and Wichita can mark himself down as a serious Guineas candidate for 2020 if the improving colt can mix it with Godolphin’s star two-year-old.
Wichita’s runaway success over the Dewhurst course and distance last month confirmed his ability to handle the unique Rowley Mile course, something Pinatubo has yet to do, and it looks hugely significant that team Ballydoyle have taken the decision to pitch him in against the season’s star juvenile.
O’Brien’s five-strong squad for the Group 1 contest also features Arizona, successful in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, Monarch of Egypt, Harpocrates and Year Of The Tiger.
However, William Hill are struggling to see anything other than a clear-cut success for Pinatubo, who drew comparisons with some of the best juveniles in recent history when running away with the National Stakes at The Curragh.
“We cannot see anyone getting close to Pinatubo and are already betting on how far he will win by,” said Hill’s spokesman Rupert Adams.
Another trainer happy to have another crack at Pinatubo is Clive Cox who will unleash his star two-year-old, Positive, who was five lengths behind Pinatubo in the Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
However, Positive has since won the Solario Stakes at Sandown and his trainer thinks there are reasons why he can close the gap on his Goodwood conqueror.
Cox said: “Like everyone else I have been extremely taken with Pinatubo, there’s no disputing his quality, but I am hopeful that Positive can show the necessary improvement to close the gap to him on Saturday.
“We have had a dry summer, so my opinion may be based more on theory than fact, but I would like to think that Positive will be at home on the type of easier ground he is likely to encounter on Saturday.”