‘Kameko is the best we’ve had here for a long while’: Trainer Andrew Balding backs colt to take on unbeaten favourite Pinatubo in 2,000 Guineas
- Kameko finished his two-year-old season with an impressive win at Newcastle
- Balding won the same race in 2014 with Elm Park, also owned by Sheik Fahad
- The colt is prepared to face Pinatubo in 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket on June 6
Trainer Andrew Balding has described Kameko as ‘the best we’ve had for a long while’ in his Kingsclere stable as the colt is prepared to face unbeaten favourite Pinatubo in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket on June 6.
Kameko finished his two-year-old season with an impressive three-and-a-quarter-length win in the Group One Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes at Newcastle in November.
Balding won the same race in 2014 with Elm Park, like Kameko owned by Sheik Fahad Al Thani’s Qatar Racing.
Kameko (left) finished his two-year-old season with an impressive win at Newcastle
Elm Park was a little disappointing as a three-year-old, finishing 11th of 12 to Golden Horn in the 2015 Derby but the trainer believes he has grounds for higher hopes with Kameko.
But Balding said: ‘Elm Park and Kameko are very different horses. Elm Park was a tall gangly horse. He had a big engine but used to lose his co-ordination.
‘Kameko is a much stronger individual, much more the textbook physique you would like from a three-year-old. Both were talented but I hope and think Kameko is the best we’ve had here for a long while.’
Kameko is 14-1 joint third favourite for the delayed first Classic of the season after wrapping up his two-year-old season in style.
His one run on the Rowley Mile under jockey Oisin Murphy saw him headed in the final strides when beaten a neck by Aidan O’Brien’s Royal Dornoch in the Royal Lodge Stakes after looking the likely winner.
Balding believes the defeat was not down to an aversion to the track but a set of circumstances.
After that race, Balding switched the equipment on Kameko’s bridle, something he thinks made a difference in the colt’s smooth Newcastle victory.
Balding said: ‘When Kameko got beaten in the Royal Lodge Stakes, I blamed the jockey but he was blaming me because he thought the horse was too fresh and free. We put the cross noseband on him and that helped him switch off a little bit.
‘If we had our time again I would have been a little bit tougher on him leading into that race and Oisin would have sat on him a little bit longer.
‘It was a combination of circumstances which didn’t suit the horse. Personally I do not think it was the track and it does not worry me.’
With four races under his belt Kameko goes into the 2,000 Guineas with experience and tuned up with a racecourse gallop at Kempton last week.
Balding added: ‘If you were the only one who couldn’t race (before the Guineas), you would have been at a disadvantage but everybody is in the same boat.
‘In the circumstances, the fact we are going there first time up is to our advantage. He is a horse who will continue to improve as he gets more racing but the racecourse gallop has helped and he has done three or four pieces of work.
‘He had a quiet meeting during the Winter months and we had just got him back in to faster work around Cheltenham time when lockdown happened.
‘At the time we were still hoping that lockdown may be on the original date at the beginning of May so we had a period where we cranked up the intensity of the work and them when we realised that wasn’t going to be the case we let him down a little bit and I couldn’t be happier with him.
‘He is not flashy in his routine exercise but he has always been the type that every time you ask him little bit more he has given and improved for it.
‘We weigh the horses regularly and have aids like heart monitors that we didn’t have 10 years ago to help us gauge fitness.
‘With all that equipment, I think he is as ready as we could have him for a first run of the year but only time will tell. When the adrenalin is pumping on race day, horses behave differently.
‘Pinatubo is obviously an outstanding horse and I have huge respect for him.. He will be tough to beat but we will give it our best shot.’
Kameko is also entered in the Derby but Balding wait for Newmarket until making a call.
The trainer added: ‘Newmarket will tell us plenty. I have no doubt will stay a mile and a quarter. Whether he stays further than that we will probably only learn through the evidence of a run at Newmarket. His targets will be debated after the Guineas.