Trainer Charlie Appleby has given an upbeat report on last season’s star juvenile Pinatubo ahead of his return to action in the 2000 Guineas next month.

The Goldolphin owned son of Shamardal was unbeaten in six starts last season, rounding off the campaign with back-to-back successes at Group 1 level.

In the first of those at the Curragh, Pinatubo put in a sensational display when romping to a facile nine length success over Amoury in the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes.

He then readily accounted for Aizona by two lengths in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket – the leading trail for the 2000 Guineas.

Pinatubo has been a red-hot favourite for the colt’s Class throughout the winter and is currently a standout 11/10 with Befred, with the majority of bookmakers making him an odds-on shot for more Group 1 glory.

Appleby is looking forward to the June 6 contest, should the government give the go-head for racing to resume as hoped behind closed doors on June 1.

Speaking on Godolphin’s website, the Newmarket handler said: “I think the mile is going to be his trip. I believe that because of his mental attitude. He is a relaxed character, and if he was later asked to step up in trip, I think he has the right mindset for it.

“As for his physical attributes, he won six races as a juvenile, and three of them were on three of Britain’s most challenging courses — Epsom, Goodwood and Newmarket. His athleticism is a key asset.

“He has pleased me in his work in preparation for the Guineas, and provided there are no hiccups, I think he will give a very good account of himself.”

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“Strengthened up physically”

Pinatubo was given an official rating of 128 at the end of his juvenile campaign, making him the best juvenile since Celtic Swing achieved a figure of 130 in 1994.

Appleby believes he has trained on as a three-year-old and strengthened up physically.

He said: “We are not going to have conclusive proof until the 2000 Guineas on June 6, but my gut feeling is that Pinatubo has trained on. No buttons will be pressed until the big day but from what we are seeing at home, he has gone the right way.

“Mentally, I see no change in him. His demeanour is the same from two to three. He remains totally relaxed. Physically, though, I do see change. He has grown and strengthened over the winter.

“You can also tell he is an experienced racehorse now. He goes about his business professionally, and nothing fazes him.”

Shock u-turn forces Paris racecourses to close

Just a week after horse racing resumed behind closed doors, France Galop has been forced into reorganising its fixture list after the French Government withdrew its approval to race in areas still heavily affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Government classifies different parts of the country into red and green zones and with Paris in a red area where the virus has a high infection rate, the likes of ParisLongchamp, Auteuil and Saint-Cloud will no longer be permitted to race.

Racing can continue in the south and west of the country, and France Galop is now looking to reschedule planned Paris based meetings at alternate venues.

A statement from the authority said: “The teams are working on plans to rearrange the May and June calendar and will announce as soon as possible where the races that were scheduled in the red zones will be held. This calendar will be subject to changes as soon as a red department turns green.”

Olivier Delloye, CEO of France Galop, is hopeful no meetings will be lost as a result of the decision.

He tweeted: “I hoped our contingency plans would not be necessary but they will for the forthcoming weeks. B-plan to be released soon. No fixture will be lost – racing goes on but we need to adapt to fast changing (and hard to read) rules.”

ParisLongchamp is due to stage the French Guineas meeting on June 1. If Paris remains in the red zone then the race is likely to be moved to Deauville.

Cox hoping Horde can strike gold in Commonwealth Cup

Trainer Clive Cox has revealed that Golden Horde is set to kick off his campaign in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at next month’s scheduled behind closed doors Royal Ascot meeting.

The son of Lethal Force won the Group 2 Richmond Stakes at Goodwood last season and twice placed in Group 1 company – finishing third behind Earthlight in the Prix Morny and second behind the same horse in the Middle Park Stakes.

The Pavilion Stakes, which usually serves as a trial for the Commonwealth, is pencilled in to be run at Newcastle on June 4 should racing get the go-ahead to resume next month.

However, Cox is planning to swerve that contest and head straight to Ascot with his top juvenile.

He told Sky Sports Racing: “I would say we’ll be looking towards the Commonwealth Cup to be starting him in.

“He’s wintered very well, he’s very strong and he’s Group One-placed twice, as well as winning the Richmond. I couldn’t be more pleased with the way he has wintered and we’re really looking forward to getting on track.”

Golden Horde is a 14/1 shot with 888sport in the ante post betting for the Commonwealth Cup. 

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