William Buick on Pinatubo at the Curragh last weekend. James Crombie/INPHO

Donn McClean: True positions in the juvenile colts' pecking order to be clearer by this weekend

Pinatubo has been rated higher than Frankel by the BHA, but there’s plenty of contemporary competition racing this weekend.

IT’S A GOOD headline, that Pinatubo is rated higher than Frankel, but it needs qualifying.

The Godolphin colt has been given an official handicap rating of 128 by the BHA’s handicapper. That’s 2lb higher than the rating that Frankel was awarded at the end of his two-year-old season in 2010.

There are parallels.

Frankel was unbeaten in three runs at this stage of his two-year-old season, while Pinatubo is now unbeaten in five. Frankel cut loose in the Royal Lodge Stakes at Ascot on his third run as a juvenile, winning by 10 lengths, before running out an impressive winner of the Dewhurst Stakes on his fourth and final run at two.

Pinatubo put up the best performance of his life so far last time in the National Stakes at The Curragh, winning by nine lengths, and he is also reportedly on track for the Dewhurst.

It was obviously what Frankel did after his juvenile season, as a three-year-old and as a four-year-old, that set him apart. Henry Cecil’s horse won five as a three-year-old, four of them Group Ones, and he won five more as a four-year-old, all of them Group Ones, by an aggregate of over 30 lengths. He was never beaten.

If Pinatubo can get even close to those levels, he will be box office.

The future is obviously difficult to predict though, especially with two-year-olds. This time last year, the 2000 Guineas winner of 2019, Magna Grecia, had not yet raced, while this year’s Irish 2000 Guineas winner Phoenix Of Spain had been beaten by Too Darn Hot in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster, and this year’s dual 1000 Guineas heroine Hermosa had finished only third in the Moyglare Stud Stakes as a 20/1 shot.

Juveniles grow and develop at different rates. A foal born at the end of March 2017 will be 30 months old by the end of September 2019. The 2000 Guineas is just over seven months away now.

That’s over seven more months of growth and development for this year’s juveniles before they line up in the Guineas, around 19% of the young horse’s life up to that point.

But the 2019 juvenile colts are still busy getting themselves into order.

The aforementioned Pinatubo is tops, that’s beyond question. He has been tops for a little while. He is five for five now and the more he races the better he looks.

tom-queally-and-frankel Tom Queally and Frankel at Newmarket, 2010. Action Images / INPHO Action Images / INPHO / INPHO

His official rating of 128 is the highest rating that a juvenile has attained since the 130 that was awarded to Celtic Swing after he won the Racing Post Trophy in 1994, and he is a short price already for next year’s 2000 Guineas.

It hasn’t always been thus, the Godolphin colt hasn’t always been tops. When he made his racecourse debut in a novice stakes over six furlongs at Wolverhampton in May, he wasn’t favourite for the race. He wasn’t even shortest of the Godolphin contingent. Trainer Charlie Appleby has said that the Shamardal colt doesn’t do an awful lot at home.

He won that maiden though, and he won the Woodcote Stakes at Epsom on Derby weekend, and he went to Royal Ascot and won the Chesham Stakes. He wasn’t favourite at Royal Ascot either, but he was impressive in coming clear of his rivals, and he set a new two-year-old track record.

He won the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood by five lengths, and he won the National Stakes at The Curragh by nine.

People likened it to other scintillating performances by juveniles through the modern era: Celtic Swing in that Racing Post Trophy; Arazi in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile; Frankel in the Royal Lodge.

Positions in the juveniles colts’ pecking order are still up for grabs, though.

Mogul staked his claim when he won the Group Two Champions Juvenile Stakes over a mile at Leopardstown on Irish Champions Weekend, building on his impressive maiden win at The Curragh.

A son of Galileo and a full-brother to this year’s Juddmonte International winner Japan, trainer Aidan O’Brien said after the Leopardstown race that he could go for the Dewhurst Stakes next, in which he would be dropping back down to seven furlongs, or for the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster, where he would be racing over a mile again. He stays a mile well, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he waited for the Doncaster race.

Earthlight was impressive in winning the Group One Prix Morny at Deauville last month. He travelled well in behind the leaders that day and, just as he had done on his previous run, in a Group Three race over the same course and distance, he showed a smart turn of foot to hit the front.

In fairness to Raffle Prize, she came with him, but he was still nicely on top at the line, despite the fact that he only beat her by a neck. Also, she is a high-class juvenile filly, the Queen Mary winner, the Duchess of Cambridge winner, and the pair of them pulled clear of their rivals.

Andre Fabre’s horse is on track for the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday, where Mums Tipple and Siskin should lie in wait, and that will be fascinating.

All three colts are unbeaten. Mums Tipple only won his maiden by a neck, but he won the Goffs UK Premier Yearling Stakes at York last time by 11 lengths. Richard Hannon’s horse will probably have to step forward again if he is to win a Group One race, but that was just his second run and his potential for progression is obvious.

colin-keane-with-siskin-and-trainer-ger-lyons-after-winning-the-keeneland-phoenix-stakes Colin Keane with Siskin and Trainer Ger Lyons after winning the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes, the Curragh earlier this year. Oisin Keniry / INPHO Oisin Keniry / INPHO / INPHO

Siskin is unbeaten in four, he has taken each step up in class in his stride. Ger Lyons’ colt was impressive in winning both the Marble Hill Stakes and the Railway Stakes, and he had to dig deep last time on ground that was softer than ideal for him to win the Group One Phoenix Stakes.

We knew that he was fast, we knew that he had a turn of foot, but we learned that day that he was tough too, that he was up for a battle, and that toughness will be a significant asset for him to carry into the future.

It looks like the future for Khalid Abdullah’s colt will begin with the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday, when Threat and Monarch Of Egypt and Lope Y Fernandez could join him and Earthlight and Mums Tipple in the line-up.

And with the Royal Lodge Stakes also set for Saturday at Newmarket, and the Beresford Stakes set for The Curragh on Sunday, we should be even wiser after this weekend.

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