Pinatubo set for mouth-watering National Stakes duel with Siskin
Exciting juvenile Pinatubo is "on track" for a mouth-watering clash with Ger Lyons' Siskin in the Vincent O'Brien National Stakes at the Curragh on Irish Champions Weekend.
Charlie Appleby - who took the spoils last year with Quorto - will run one of the most exciting horses in training having landed his four starts in sensational fashion.
Pinatubo gave subsequent Group Three Round Tower Stakes winner Lope Y Fernandez a ten-length beating when coasting to success on his last start in the Group Two Vintage Stakes at Goodwood in July and it's all systems go as he steps into Group One company for the first time.
"All is well with Pinatubo and this race has always been our aim. He has been pleasing us at home and the only issue might be if the ground were very testing," Appleby said of the Shamardal colt, owned by Godolphin.
"He has the perfect profile to be going into Group One company and he's exciting. This will be a race with at least two exciting colts as Ger Lyons' Siskin has looked very good."
The Newmarket trainer hopes the English 2,000 Guineas ante-post favourite (3/1) can join an illustrious National Stakes roll of honour alongside the likes of Sinndar, Dubawi and George Washington before tackling the Dewhurst at Newmarket.
Another horse ready for Champions Weekend is Madhmoon and Kevin Prendergast is in confident mood ahead of his Irish Champion Stakes tilt with the veteran trainer bullish that "whatever beats him will win".
The Epsom Derby second got his first win of 2019 in the Group Three Desmond Stakes and the 87-year-old Prendergast is looking forward to a return to Leopardstown as he tackles ten furlongs for the first time.
"I couldn't be happier with the shape he is in. It was good to see him drop back to a mile the last day and show the pace to win. I don't think tactics will matter next weekend either. I managed a fourth in the race before alright but I've never had anything like Madhmoon," he said.
Meanwhile, the main changes to the 2020 Irish calendar will see the Curragh's Derby Festival revert to its traditional three-day schedule from Friday to Sunday, while their Friday evening meetings have been greatly reduced from seven to three.
Two of those will be trialled on a Wednesday and a Saturday while it is hoped six blank Sundays among the 370 fixtures will "ease workloads on stable staff and help trainers".