All eyes on Pinatubo in 2000 Guineas - but must it be Love in the 1000 Guineas?

After a 76-day off lay-off amid the coronavirus pandemic, horse racing has returned with a bang this week.

Pinatubo reigning supreme at Royal Ascot last June / Picture: Malcolm Wells
Pinatubo reigning supreme at Royal Ascot last June / Picture: Malcolm Wells

The first major to sport to resume following the latest lifting of lockdown restrictions by the government, June is set to be a month to savour for punters.

This weekend, the first British Classics of the season get under way at Newmarket with the 2000 and 1000 Guineas - before Irish racing’s return on June 8 and a five-day 36-race bonanza at Royal Ascot from June 16-June 20.

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All of the action is of course behind closed doors and this weekend’s two Classic contests look treats to savour. The Racing Post have previewed all of the action with stats and analysis.

Pinatubo wins at Goodwood last summer / Picture: Malcolm Wells

2000 Guineas – Pinatubo to sink or swim?

The opening Classic of the season sees one of the most exciting horses currently in training attempt to retain his unbeaten record and take a major step to becoming racing’s new poster boy.

Godolphin’s Pinatubo enjoyed a sensational two-year-old campaign with six victories and is the odds-on 5/6 favourite to capture the mile event at Newmarket, which is live on ITV at 3.35pm.

However, the son of Shamardal’s chance is tempered by two concerns. Firstly, whether he will actually see out the mile trip and secondly, whether having been such a powerful two-year-old he would have trained on in terms of scope and size to the same effect as some of the other horses in the field.

Given his price and concerns, it could pay to side with Aidan O’Brien’s chief contender Arizona (5/1). An unlucky fifth in America on his final start last season, he chased home Pinatubo twice as a two-year-old but has reportedly been working very well at O’Brien’s legendary Ballydoyle stables in Ireland.

He should grow into his frame this year and given he already proves his durability for Newmarket, he is a major player as he seeks to provide O’Brien with an 11th win in the race. As is his stablemate Wichita (14/1). An impressive winner at the track in September, he was third to Pinatubo on his final start last season, but is lightly raced and the likely mount of Frankie Dettori.

Others who deserve a mention are Kameko (7/1) who has been drawing high praise from his trainer Andrew Balding in recent days and captured the G1 Racing Post Trophy at Newcastle last season.

The unbeaten Military March (16/1) was a gutsy winner over Al Suhail (16/1) over the course and distance at Newmarket in October, whilst the similarly undefeated Kenzai Warrior (25/1) was a G3 winner at the track in November and represents a trainer in Roger Teal who saddled Tip Two Win to finish second in the race two years ago.

Verdict – Arizona makes plenty of appeal given his pedigree and eye-catching gallop reports, whilst Military March could be an outstanding each-way bet. Pinatubo could be a superstar, but is opposable at the prices.

1000 Guineas – It must be Love

The unbeaten Quadrilateral heads the market at 9/4 for the fillies’ equivalent live on ITV at 3.35pm on Sunday. She defied inexperience to win the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket in October and being a daughter of the mighty Frankel, she will have blossomed over the winter for trainer Roger Charlton.

However, Balldoyle maestro Aidan O’Brien has a number of interesting entries and Love could give him a sixth win in the race. Third to Quadrilateral at Newmarket last time out, she was a dual Group scorer last term and better is expected of her as a three-year-old.

The stiff finish at the track should play to her strengths and she could be followed home by another Irish representative Millisle (11/2) who defeated Raffle Prize (10/1) to land the G1 Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket in September, although the pair do both have stamina concerns. O’Brien’s other leading representative Peaceful (10/1) second to possible Oaks contender Born With Pride at Newmarket in November, also warrants a mention.

Verdict – Quadrilateral has the best form in the book, but Love could really blossom into a smart filly this year and looks a good bet at 9/2 across the boards with bookmakers for the 1000 Guineas.

Meanwhile, Sussex-based trainer Amanda Perrett also has a number of entries at Newmarket over the weekend.

Open Wide (15/2) is her best shot on Friday in the 1:50 Betway Handicap, while Tinto in the same race, Saucy Encore (5:20 race) and Saaheq (5:55) are all double-figure prices. On Sunday Zhui Feng lines up in the 4:10 Betfair Handicap and Ruby Red Express rounds off her weekend at Newmarket in the 5:20 Betfair EBF Stallions Novice Stakes.

David Menuisier, who also trains at Perrett's stables in Pullborough, has two entries at Newmarket on Sunday. Ryan Moore rides unraced Winter Reprise in the 5:20 and Luigi Vampa faces a tough ask against a tough field in the 5:55 Betfair Handicap.

* For the best tips, exclusive interviews with the biggest names in racing and full coverage of the sport's packed behind-closed-doors schedule, pick up a Racing Post every day in June. 18+ please gamble responsibly.