We talk to Timeform Flat Editor David Johnson about Pinatubo, who has already earned a rating that would have won all bar one of this century's 2000 Guineas.
Visually Pinatubo’s performance in winning the Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes at the Curragh was stunning. What did Timeform make of it – and rate it?
In our opinion, this is one of those occasions where the performance is certainly as good as it looks. Timeform have given Pinatubo a rating of 134p for his win on Sunday. He went into the race rated 125p, which we pointed out after Goodwood was very high for the time of year for a juvenile, and this shows that he continues to perform well ahead of curve. Horses like George Washington, Dubawi and New Approach won the National Stakes running to marks more like the low 120s, it speaks volumes about Pinatubo’s quality just how far he is rated ahead of the likes of them at this stage.
How does that rating stack up against the star two-year-olds we’ve seen in recent times?
This was a performance right out of the top drawer, and given what went before it at Goodwood, as well as the top-class (131) timefigure, there are fewer concerns about him continuing to reproduce it. In terms of juveniles, it is a performance of rare merit. Frankel ended his juvenile season rated 133p, Xaar, who was a seven-length Dewhurst winner was 132. You have to go back to the likes of Celtic Swing (138) and Arazi (135) to find juvenile performances that we would suggest were superior to what we saw at the Curragh on Sunday.
We’ve seen him five times now – just how much more improvement, if any, do you think there is still to come?
He retains the ‘p’ symbol with us and I don't think we have got to the bottom of him, but as always with regards to ratings, it’s needing the opportunity to run to big figure as well as having the ability to do so. I think we’ll see a race like the Dewhurst cut up quite a bit. There are plenty of other options for juveniles in Group Ones at seven furlongs and a mile these days, including abroad, so I fear the Dewhurst might be a bit of a procession for him, rather than a race where we find out anything new.
There’s a vintage renewal of the Juddmonte Middle Park looming large at Newmarket – how big a step forward would the likes of Siskin, Earthlight and Mum’s Tipple have to take there to even threaten Pinatubo’s status as champion two-year-old elect?
Mums Tipple has already shown form good enough to win Group Ones with his demolition job at York. His rating of 124p would have won all except Dream Ahead’s Middle Park this century, so there’s no doubt that we have seen two well above average juvenile colts so far in 2019. Earthlight (117p) and Siskin (116p) have both looked very promising in winning the Morny and Phoenix Stakes respectively, but those races usually don’t take as much winning as the autumn Group Ones. Both are very promising colts, and will probably end the season rated higher than they are now, but it has to be long odds against that they can take their form to the sort of level required to threaten Pinatubo’s status.
Would Pinatubo's current Timeform rating be enough to go on and win a normal QIPCO 2000 Guineas?
Unquestionably. With a rating of 134p, there’s only been one running of the Guineas this century that Pinatubo wouldn’t have run out a comfortable winner of if reproducing his best - and you can guess who won that! In fact the median rating for 2000 Guineas winners this century is 125, so Pinatubo could afford to run a fair way below his best and still win the Guineas.
Pinatubo's Timeform performance rating of 134 in winning the Vincent O'Brien National Stakes was the second highest of the modern era from a two-year-old colt.
David Ord looks at the other juvenile stars who posted monster figures - and what happened afterwards.
138 Celtic Swing
His number-busting performance came in the 1994 Racing Post Trophy where he travelled like a dream in a strongly-run affair and set sail for home over two furlongs out. the further he went, the further he went clear. The official distance back to Annus Mirabilis at the line was 12 lengths and a star was born. A reappearance defeat of Bahri (the pair nine lengths clear of the third) teed him up for the Guineas but despite confirming his Berkshire superiority over John Dunlop's charge, he was cut down by Pennekamp in the dying strides.
It was clear he was ready to step up in trip and after much deliberation the decision was taken to head to the French Derby at Chantilly in preference to Epsom. 'Sad, Mad, Bad' roared the front page of the Racing Post but the quest for easier ground was rewarded with a Classic success. A half-length defeat of Poliglote wasn't a breathtaking performance but he was always just doing enough. He was to race only once more and injured a near-fore knee when eighth in the Irish Derby.
The three-year-old campaign, one sunny Sunday in north Paris apart, was an anti-climax. He was never to run to within a stone of the figure posted at Doncaster but that day at Town Moor will love long in the memory.
An emphatic winner of the Prix de la Salamandre, it was a seven lengths demolition of Tamarsik in the Dewhurst that rocketed Andre Fabre's colt up the juvenile rankings. It was such an exciting performance that there was no disguising the flat feeling back at Headquarters in the spring when he scrambled home from Derby hope Gulland in the Craven Stakes.
From there he was never to win again, fourth in King Of Kings' Guineas, he was dropped to Group Two company at Deauville in August but found Kabool too good and the step up to ten furlongs in the Irish Champion didn't do the trick as he finished third behind Swain. A winter switch to Godolphin followed but he was to only race twice for the boys in blue, finishing third in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot and chasing home Compton Admiral in the Coral-Eclipse. The brilliance of his autumn two-year-old days seemed a long way away.
It was again the Racing Post Trophy that provided the platform for a two-year-old performance of the ages and Armiger's six lengths destruction of Ivanka with Zind four lengths further adrift in third was breathtaking. Henry Cecil looked to have a colt to go to war with.
A routine win followed on his reappearance in the Chester Vase before connecitons opted to head to the Prix Lupin at Longchamp. On quick ground he had no answer to the late thrust of Hernando and went down by a neck. His unbeaten record gone, Armiger wasn't seen on a racecourse for three months. The Great Voltigeur at York was his chosen target but despite being sent off at odds-on he never looked like being involved in the finish. He fared better in the St Leger, finishing second behind Bob's Return, but was to bow out with a tame effort, 15th behind Urban Sea in the Arc while sporting the second colours of owner Prince Khalid Abdullah.
129 Dream Ahead
His performance in winning the 2010 Middle Park was rated the best since Xaar's Dewhurst triumph by the Halifax-based firm. Nine lengths was the winning margin over Strong Suit but that brilliance was missing just over two weeks later when fifth of sixth in the Dewhurst.
He wasn't seen at three until the St James's Palace Stakes and made a satisfactory - if unspectacular- return in finishing fifth behind Frankel. A return to sprinting followed and a star was reborn. He won the July Cup and Haydock Sprint Cup before stepping up to seven furlongs and claiming the notable scalp of Goldikova in the Prix de la Foret. On that day he ran to a Timeform performance rating of 133, the only time he eclipsed his Middle Park number.
There's not much to add to this one other than the 128 juvenile mark was his Royal Lodge demolition of Klammer (ten lengths adrift) and not his Dewhurst win over Roderic O'Connor, Glor Na Mara and Dream Ahead.
But 128 was small fry. He went to 135 in both the Greenham and QIPCO 2000 Guineas the following spring, 139 in the 2011 Sussex, 144 in the next year's Lockinge and peaked at 147 with his unforgettable Queen Anne Stakes procession a month later. He is the barometer by which all that follow will be measured.
127 Too Darn Hot, Lady Aurelia
Things didn't go according to plan for Too Darn Hot this spring but he did add two Group One prizes to his juvenile haul, namely the Qatar Prix Jean Prat and Sussex Stakes. At Deauville he matched his peak juvenile career figure but was never to surpass it after injury forced connections to pull up stumps before his intended autumn targets.
Lady Aurelia was precocious, very precocious, running to 127 when winning the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot in the June of her juvenile career. She was a sprinter through and through and her win in the King's Stand Stakes at the same meeting 12 months later was courtesy of an even better performance - Timeform rating it 131+. She was never to win again although only succumbed to Marsha in the very last stride of the Coolmore Nunthorpe that August. Retired in the autumn of 2018, she was sold for $7,500,000 to begin life as a broodmare.
A breathtaking winner of the Dewhurst, running to a Timeform rating of 126, he improved by a couple of pounds when beating subsequent Irish 2000 Guineas and Breeders' Cup Mile hero Barathea by three-and-a-half lengths in the Newmarket Classic on the first Saturday of May. He looked set to cement his place as one of the great modern-day milers but only ran once more, bleeding internally when seventh of ten in the Sussex Stakes. He was fragile but twice at Newmarket, absolutely brilliant.
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