The delayed start to the British Flat season, with the first of the Classics provisionally scheduled for Saturday 6 June at Newmarket, is eagerly anticipated by all and Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby is certainly no exception.
The systems in place at his Moulton Paddocks in Newmarket have harvested an impressive number of winners for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed over the years, and there is optimism that level of success can be maintained in 2020.
Appleby said, "Of course, it has been a very unusual start to the year, with the world coming to terms with the devastating effects of Covid-19.
"During the crisis, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed has given huge support, not just to Godolphin, but to communities in Dubai and Britain, and we are indebted to him for that backing.
"Everybody at Godolphin has continued to work incredibly hard over the past months. Despite the inevitable anxiety many have felt because of the pandemic, morale is good, and I would like to thank all at Moulton Paddocks for their dedication, which has helped all remain positive.
"I keep getting asked ‘has Pinatubo trained on’? We are not going to have conclusive proof until the 2000 Guineas but my gut feeling is Pinatubo has trained on. No buttons will be pressed until the big day but from what we are seeing at home, he has gone the right way.
"Mentally, I see no change in him. His demeanour is the same from two to three. He remains totally relaxed.
"Physically, though, I do see change. He has grown and strengthened over winter.
You can also tell he is an experienced racehorse now. He goes about his business professionally, and nothing fazes him.
"On Saturday, William Buick came to Moulton Paddocks to sit on Pinatubo for the first time since the Dewhurst last October, and he was very pleased with him.
"William said he gave him the same feel as when he rode him at two. We were pleased with his work. It was nice and simple and he went about it in his usual professional straightforward manner. We were delighted the way he finished off the gallop, over six furlongs.
"It was not a test. It was a piece of work to bring him on, and we now look forward to the final stages of his preparation for the Guineas.
"I am often asked why we didn’t take Pinatubo to Dubai during the winter. It was decided that he should stay at home in Newmarket in familiar surroundings. It was a decision taken by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and myself for the simple reasons of not wanting to change his training style or where he trains.
"He never won a gallop. But he never finished last. He only always did enough. He worked adequately. He would never disappoint but he would never excite, either.
"There are plenty, who win gallops in the morning and never turn up in the afternoon. He is the opposite.
"I think the mile is going to be his trip. I believe that because of his mental attitude. He is a relaxed character, and if he was later asked to step up in trip, I think he has the right mindset for it.
"As for his physical attributes, he won six races as a juvenile, and three of them were on three of Britain’s most challenging courses: Epsom, Goodwood and Newmarket. His athleticism is a key asset.
"He has pleased me in his work in preparation for the Guineas, and provided there are no hiccups, I think he will give a very good account of himself."