Charlie Appleby admits there will be “no excuses” for Pinatubo when he bids to win over a mile for the first time in the Prix du Moulin at ParisLongchamp.
The Shamardal colt was one of the star performers of 2019 with a six-race unbeaten juvenile campaign – and he was unsurprisingly all the rage to claim Classic glory on his return to action in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in early June.
However, Pinatubo met with with defeat for the first time over the Rowley Mile – beaten little over a length into third place – and again had to make do with minor honours behind Palace Pier in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot a fortnight later.
Appleby’s ace opened his account for the campaign when dropped to seven furlongs for Prix Jean Prat at Deauville in July, and returns from a midsummer break for what is a mouthwatering contest in Paris on Sunday.
“Pinatubo is in great order,” said the Newmarket trainer.
“His first two runs of the season, I felt, were courageous runs over the mile – in the Guineas and the St James’s Palace.
“We were pleased to get his head back in front over the seven (furlongs) in the Prix Jean Prat. It was always the plan to give him a break after that, after three fairly quick runs, and his preparation has gone well into this weekend.”
With William Buick remaining in Britain to ensure he is free to ride at the St Leger meeting at Doncaster and on Irish Champions Weekend, James Doyle rides Pinatubo for the first time since steering him to victory in the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood last summer.
Appleby added: “William has sat on him during the last couple of weeks, and James sat on him earlier this week. They were both pleased with what they felt, and we’re pleased with what we’re seeing.
“We’re looking forward to having another crack at the mile. The prediction is for good ground on Sunday, so there’s no excuses.
“It’s going to be a great race.”
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Circus Maximus and Ken Condon’s Romanised were split by just a nose when first and second in a thrilling but controversial renewal of the Prix du Moulin 12 months ago.
The pair came close together in the closing stages, prompting an inquiry, but the ParisLongchamp stewards decided the placings should remain unaltered -and a subsequent appeal from Romanised’s connections was unsuccessful.
Condon’s stable star kicked off the current campaign by winning the Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh for the second year in succession, but could finish only fifth – two places behind Circus Maximus – on his latest appearance in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville.
“We’re very happy with the horse. He did his last piece of work on Tuesday morning, and it went very smoothly,” said Condon.
“They tell me the ground will be good or even on the quick side, which will suit Romanised very well.
“He was very good in the Minstrel, and I can forgive him his last run at Deauville on heavy ground. He travelled through the race with his customary zeal, but struggled in the last furlong on that ground.
“It’s a small but very select field on Sunday. He’s not going to be favourite, obviously, but it looks like ground conditions should be in his favour – and I’m very hopeful he’ll give a good account of himself.
“It’s a fascinating race.”
Circus Maximus and Romanised are joined by a third Irish challenger, in the Ger Lyons-trained Siskin.
The Irish 2,000 Guineas hero suffered his first reverse when third behind the now-retired Mohaather and Circus Maximus in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood on his latest appearance.
Lyons told Sky Sports Racing: “He was beaten by two better horses on the day at Goodwood, (but) it was a lovely run by the horse. He came out of Goodwood in good nick, and we brought him along nice and gently.
“I don’t think we had any excuses at Goodwood. We were beaten by an exceptional miler in Mohaather and a rock-solid horse in Circus Maximus. I thought my horse ran a career-best, and he was just found wanting against two stronger animals on the day.
“Physically he’s definitely improved through the summer. He’s not ground dependent, but I know he likes faster ground – that’s what he’s most comfortable on.”
Andre Fabre saddles Persian King and Victor Ludorum in a bid to win the race for a record seventh time.