Pinatubo is the star name among 11 juveniles confirmed for the Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.
The Shamardal colt has carried all before him so far this season – progressing from a low-key debut win at Wolverhampton to landing the Woodcote at Epsom, the Chesham at Royal Ascot and the Vintage at Goodwood before a nine-length romp in the National Stakes in Ireland.
Charlie Appleby’s charge will be a warm order to confirm his status as champion two-year-old on the Rowley Mile this weekend – and the Newmarket handler has been pleased with his charge since his latest triumph at the Curragh.
He said: “He has come out of the National Stakes in good shape. As per usual, he has been straightforward at home and we are looking forward to the Dewhurst.
“I’d say we have frightened off most of the opposition, but from what we have seen at the races, he has been very impressive for all to see and has improved on each run.
“It was great to see Earthlight winning the Middle Park and he is there as one of the potential champion two-year-olds, but if Pinatubo wins the Dewhurst and I think that is signed, sealed and delivered – that he is the most exciting two-year-old we have seen this year.”
Aidan O’Brien has saddled six previous winners of the seven-furlong Group One and this year has five contenders – headed by the supplemented Wichita, who was an impressive winner of the Tattersalls Stakes over the Dewhurst course and distance last month.
He could be joined by stable companion Arizona – third behind Pinatubo in the National Stakes, having won the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot earlier in the year.
The Ballydoyle quintet is completed by Harpocrates, Monarch Of Egypt and Year Of The Tiger.
Molatham is an interesting contender for Roger Varian, having won the Convivial Maiden at York and beaten Wichita in the Flying Scotsman Stakes at Doncaster on his last two starts. He was narrowly beaten by Mums Tipple on his debut at Ascot.
The Clive Cox-trained Positive was no match for Pinatubo when runner-up at Glorious Goodwood, but could renew rivalry after a narrow victory in the Solario Stakes at Sandown.
Mark Johnston’s Iffraaz, Richard Hannon’s Mystery Power and the Charlie Hills-trained Royal Commando are the other hopefuls.