WILLIAM Buick is excited at what the future holds for the unbeaten Pinatubo after hailing the precocious horse as the best two-year-old he has ever ridden.
Named after a mountain in the Philippines, Pinatubo put in a peak performance to land the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh last Sunday on Irish Champions Weekend.
And the nine-length victory in the Group One contest was, arguably, more impressive than the colt’s stylish win in the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood in July.
The first time that Buick has ridden Pinatubo – the Northern Racing College graduate has spent much of the summer on the sidelines with a concession injury – he struggled to contain his delight as the horse streaked clear of his illustrious rivals.
Trained by Charlie Appleby and owned by Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation, the horse is already hot favourite for next year’s 2000 Guineas after this Frankel-like performance.
“It was a good performance from Pinatubo as Aidan’s (O’Brien) horses Armory and Arizona set a good standard. He is an exciting horse to have in the stable and let’s just hope he can keep on progressing,” enthused Buick last night.
“It was the first time I had ridden him in a race, but at Goodwood you got a bit of a taste of what could happen.
“It was a very similar performance in many ways (to Goodwood), I would say, in what was a deeper field.
“At this stage of his career he is probably the best two-year-old I’ve sat on, but he is a horse that you want to look at beyond his two-year-old career and last Sunday. You want to be looking towards next year with him.”
Having been associated with plenty of top-notch performers during his career, Buick feels Pinatubo – now unbeaten from five starts – offers something a little bit extra that could elevate him to even greater heights than anything he has ridden before.
Buick, who won the 2018 Epsom Derby on Masar, explained: “He is a little bit different to any other horse I’ve ridden, in the sense he is very relaxed and then when you ease him into the race and when you ask him he picks up very quickly.
“He is a very fast horse, but at the same time he is a horse that is very relaxed in the middle and early parts of his races. It was a top-class performance and everything that he has done and that has been said afterwards points to it being a special performance.”
Though Pinatubo has been reported by his Newmarket handler to be a different horse at home to the one that has been seen on course, Buick has not been surprised by what he has achieved to date.
He said: “I think Charlie has always liked him. He only broke his maiden at Wolverhampton, but I’m sure around that period it was wet and at Wolverhampton you were going to get an all-weather surface, avoiding really soft ground.
“He went to Epsom, Ascot and Goodwood and then the Curragh and has been a horse that has progressed from each race.
“He is a lovely horse to be around and he is a horse that has got a great mentality, a great brain and is very laid-back, which is obviously a help for everyone around the horse.”
With the Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket on October 12 earmarked as Pinatubo’s next target, Buick feels he should have no issue coping with the undulations of the Rowley Mile – and will get an extra furlong in next year’s 2000 Guineas.
He added: “I can’t see Newmarket being a problem for him. I know it is a race that is on the radar, but Charlie and Sheikh Mohammed will speak with each other and see what is best for the horse. I shouldn’t think the mile will be a problem next year, either.
“What we do is a job, but it is lovely to get a horse like that and I’m in a very privileged position to be riding a horse like him.”
Oisin Murphy secured his 150th win in the 2019 Flat Jockeys’ Championship with victory on Shailene at Newbury. The first time he has reached the milestone, Murphy, 24, is on course to be crowned champion jockey next month.