Kameko set to run in Epsom Derby next month as favourite after recording race record time in 2,000 Guineas victory on Saturday
- Kameko stormed to victory in Saturday’s Qipco 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket
- The horse, ridden by Oisin Murphy, is now 4-1 favourite for the Derby on July 4
- Pinatubo will run in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 20
- Kameko’s win was watched by a bumper audience on ITV, with a peak of 1.4m
Reservations about whether Kameko has the necessary stamina for next month’s Investec Derby will not stop Saturday’s Qipco 2,000 Guineas winner lining up at Epsom on July 4.
Kameko is 4-1 favourite for the most significant race of the British Flat season after recording a race record time in the 2,000 Guineas as he helped champion jockey Oisin Murphy record his first Classic win and trainer Andrew Balding his second.
There was added poignancy for owner Sheik Fahad Al Thani with Kameko being sired by US stallion Kitten’s Joy.
Kameko recorded a race record time in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas on Saturday at Newmarket
He was the sire of Sheik Fahad-owned Roaring Lion, who landed the 2018 Coral-Eclipse Stakes, Juddmonte International Stakes, Qipco Irish Champion Stakes and Queen Elizabeth Stakes before losing his life last year to an attack of colic in his first season as a stallion.
Roaring Lion finished third to Masar in the 2018 Derby as his stamina ran on but David Redvers, racing manager to Sheik Fahad’s Qatar Racing operation, said that would not put the team off testing Kameko at Epsom.
Redvers, who bought Kameko for what now looks like a bargain £71,000 ($90,000) at Keeneland sales in September 2018, said: ‘If Kameko had not won the 2,000 Guineas I would have been loathed to run him in the Derby.
‘But having won the 2,000 Guineas, he is now a Classic winning three-year-old on top of being a group-one winning two-year-old. There is nothing to lose except the worry he doesn’t stay and the race leaves its mark on him.
Kameko (L), ridden by Oisin Murphy, approaches the finish line at Newmarket yesterday
‘There is only one Derby. Andrew Balding has spent his entire life in the shadow of his father Ian’s 1971 Derby winner Mill Reef and Sheik Fahad has said the race he would most like to win in the entire world is the Epsom Derby and the horse is favourite.
‘It would be foolish to say the horse will not run in the race but you would imagine the opposition would make it the truest test of stamina that they possibly can.’
With the Eclipse Stakes closed to three-year-olds this year, midsummer 10 furlong options for Roaring Lion are limited.
Redvers added: ‘If he had not won the Guineas the obvious 10 furlong race for him would have been the French Derby.
Action at Newmarket Racecourse on Saturday took place in front of empty grandstands
‘Later on I think the Juddmonte International (at York in August) will be the perfect race for him, as it was for Roaring Lion, and they we will hope we don’t get bottomless ground for the Qipco Champion Stakes (at Ascot in October).
Meanwhile, trainer Charlie Appleby is planning to run Pinatubo, who lost his unbeaten record when third in the 2,000 Guineas, in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 20.
Appleby said: ‘It is obviously disappointing when you taste your first defeat with a horse like Pinatubo but, taking the positives out of the race, I think that he has shown that he has trained on. He was beaten by two good horses in a very quick time.
‘I think that we will see an improvement with Pinatubo mentally going forward, because he is a very relaxed horse at home. He improved with racing throughout his two-year-old season and it could be a similar situation this year.
Pinatubo, who lost his unbeaten record when third in the 2,000 Guineas, will run at Ascot
‘Hopefully, we can regroup and get him back on track for the G1 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in a couple of weeks’ time.’
Kameko’s win was watched by a bumper audience on ITV. The Saturday programme peak of 1.453 million and average of 975,000 were both almost double the respective 2019 figures of 749,000 and 504,000.
The figures demonstrated the pent-up demand of sports-starved television viewers and bode well for the upcoming ITV coverage of Royal Ascot.