Comfortably my favourite winner of the last flat season was Pinatubo.
Four of his six career wins were tipped by me to members of VG Tips. I backed the colt each time. No wonder he’s a favourite horse of mine. But I am wondering if we will see him out again this coming spring or summer. I have my doubts.
The entire flat season for 2020 must be in doubt now that Coronavirus is taking hold in the UK. Pinatubo is scheduled to race at Newmarket on May 2nd. He is the hot favourite to win the 2000 Guineas. That wasn’t the case when I backed him ante-post for the race and suggested subscribers to my service follow me in at great odds of 10/1. That was several months ago. Now the best price you can get for him to win the 2000 Guineas as the 3 year old is a mere 5/4.
Because the UK government was so slow and complacent in dealing with a health crisis that was heading their way; the peak of Coronavirus cases will arrive later in the UK than in other countries. I hope I am wrong, but I cannot see the Guineas meeting going ahead, nor the Derby at Epsom in June and I suspect Royal Ascot is unlikely to take place, at least in front of spectators.
I fear the entire flat season could be wiped out by Coronavirus. It goes without saying that this matters not a jot when compared to tens of thousand of people dying prematurely. As much as we may love racing, no sport matters more than life. Ever.
Irish racing tried to carry on behind closed doors last week but the seriousness of the health crisis soon put a stop to that. I don’t see how you can confidently arrange the summer flat races to take place in such a way. It would only require one jockey, trainer, stable lad or lass in attendance to test positive for Coronavirus and the race meeting would have to be called off.
Some people suggest delaying the Guineas meeting until the summer. The Derby and Royal Ascot until the autumn. The trouble is that these horses have been trained assiduously with specific targets and dates in mind. Pinatubo racing in a 2000 Guineas in July, for example, may be a different animal from the same horse prepared for early May. I suspect that if you delay all the feature meetings by months, the results of those races could be very different.
Godolphin now own Pinatubo and trainer Charlie Appleby would not want to see his prize three year old miss an entire season.
He’s not alone. Speaking through my pocket, I have been looking forward to collecting on that 10/1 bet for a very long time. More importantly, I have been eager to see the colt race again this coming flat season. He was special as a two year old and I am hoping he gets to prove he’s just as good at three.
But whether we get to see another performance like his victory in the Dewhurst Stakes last October, only time will tell. I’m not cashing in my bet. The bookie will refund my stake should, as I fear, the Newmarket May meeting be another sports fixture lost to this lethal pandemic.