Pinatubo had to dig deep to maintain his perfect racing record but he clearly has the heart for a battle as well as an outstanding engine and his hard-fought two-length success means he could now turn up for the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas as one of the shortest-priced favorites in recent memory.
In what turned into a strongly run G1 Darley Dewhurst Stakes, Pinatubo needed to dig deep to see off a major challenge from Coolmore's Arizona, with the pair clear of Wichita, but class rose to the top despite conditions being less than ideal.
It was a performance that crowns HRH Sheikh Mohammed's star juvenile as the champion of his age in 2019, to the delight of his owner who treated the Rowley Mile crowd to a little jig as he collected the winning trophy.
Sheikh Mohammed said: “When you win like that that and show so much courage, it's very pleasing.
“I have seen him many times and we all love him.
“Every year you have a favorite horse and we hope that we can find one like him again next year.
“He is a very good horse that will go on to produce good horses. The Shamardals are very fast.
“I will be looking forward to seeing him next year.”
The colt is now a 4/5 chance to win next May's QIPCO 2000 Guineas with bet365, who also have him as the 6-1 favourite in their Investec Derby betting.
A relieved Charlie Appleby said: “He's been a very special horse this year and you all saw him walking around the paddock – he has a demeanor about him.
“I would be making it up if I said he was a 'wow' horse in the mornings, he just goes out there and does his business. You would think he was an older horse in a handicap if you didn't know who he was.
“He showed great courage. He traveled nicely but I told William [Buick] to hold on to him until he hit the rising ground, not to put him on his head in this ground and Will gave him a fantastic ride. Once it came to the fight he wasn't going to lie down.
“People ask why we were running him again and if we were taking a big risk running him having already done so five times, but if you are a boxer going into the ring you want someone that has plenty of experience behind him and someone that has been in a dogfight.
“He went to Epsom on Derby day, he went to Royal Ascot, he went to Goodwood, he's been up and down dale and all around the country and across the world so he brought a wealth of experience to the table as well as an engine, which is the most important thing.
“On the back of Blue Point retiring, it's great for Sheikh Mohammed that Shamardal is doing so well as a sire.
“Blue Point got me excited in the mornings, I could set my clock by him, I knew what he was going to do but this horse is the complete opposite. I worked him in the week and he rolls upsides his lead horse and chokes out again, so it doesn't exactly fill you with confidence going into a Group 1, but as long as he keeps producing on the track I'm happy.”
Winning jockey William Buick added: “It was a great performance from a great horse.
“It was different ground today so he needed to show different qualities – it turned into a stamina test and you saw today that he is a complete racehorse.”
Seamie Heffernan could not have been more gracious in defeat, paying tribute to the horse that beat him in a typically strong renewal of the Group 1 Darley Dewhurst Stakes.
The Aidan O'Brien quartet of Arizona (14/1), Wichita (7/2), Year Of The Tiger and Monarch Of Egypt finished second, third, fourth and fifth respectively to Pinatubo (1/3F) in the 7f contest, with the Heffernan-ridden runner-up beaten by two lengths.
The 47-year-old Heffernan paid tribute to the powerfully-built winner and said: “The winner is exceptional. Arizona is a fine, big colt and time is going to play to my lad's strengths.
“I felt he tried in the testing ground today but I'm not blaming the ground. Time is going to help my lad hopefully get closer if they clash in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas. That's the first impression.
“The winner is a fair tool. We lost one with Enable gone, so hopefully the public will follow this lad (Pinatubo) as racing needs its champions.”
O'Brien added that the soft ground would have been against both Arizona and previous course and distance winner Wichita.
He said: “They ran well. They all ran well, I thought. They are big horses, Arizona and Wichita. They wouldn't have liked that ground.
“They are really good-ground horses. We'll see if we bring them back for the Guineas. It is a long way away. We were very happy with their runs, but the ground was the worry. They ran well and there are no complaints.”
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