Try as he might, Pinatubo could not run down owner companion Persian King in the Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp over a mile in France.
Last year’s British champion juvenile tried and failed for the third time at the trip. Pinatubo behaved like a mule in the preliminaries, refusing to enter the stalls.
It paid to be up on the pace in this race, however, as Persian King got a nice toe into the race from last year’s winner Circus Maximus.
Andre Fabre has now trained seven winners of the elite mile event in France. The first of those came way back in 1988 with Soviet Star.
As Fabre extended his own fabulous record in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp, jockey James Doyle was left to rue what might have been.
Pinatubo gained all the way to the line, but had he given the horse too much to do? Owners Godolphin still had a 1-2, but this now raises questions about where next.
In what looks set to be a red-hot renewal of the Prix de la Foret, connections have other options. Pinatubo shaped best of all his attempts at a mile here.
Before, he wasn’t quite seeing the race out. In the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp, Pinatubo’s fast finish came after the bird had flown.
That didn’t stop bookmakers from shortening him up for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on British Champions Day at Ascot. They also pushed out Circus Maximus and fellow Irish raider Siskin, who won a Classic earlier in the campaign.
Pinatubo is now a best-price 10/1 chance for the QE2 with 888Sport. Palace Pier, an absentee from Longchamp, remains the hot favourite.
Analysis: Prix du Moulin de Longchamp raises more questions
Jamie Clark, Horsebetting.com Editor
Pinatubo clearly has huge talent, but yet again it’s a case of what might have been. I am not the biggest fan of James Doyle – it’s nothing personal, but this was another big race ride you can question.
They went hard early on in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp. Very hard. Even though that searching gallop and pace collapsed, Pinatubo still couldn’t quite close before the line.
This was a home fixture for Persian King, who has earned QE2 quotes off the back of this win. What looks more significant in the immediate aftermath is bookies like BetVictor pushing Pinatubo out to 7/1 for the Foret.
Is he a miler or not? If Pinatubo is, then he has to win a big race to prove it. All his best wins have been over 7f. The trouble is that Godolphin also have Space Blues, a later maturing but undoubtedly improving four-year-old.
They weren’t shy about running three in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp, so having more than one iron in the fire isn’t a problem. The boys in blue may do likewise on Arc weekend in the Foret.
Pinatubo is now in the costly horse to follow bracket. He has been sent off at short and prohibitive odds throughout his career.
That may have rewarded punters last season, but one win in four this term isn’t good enough. Persian King came into Longchamp off the back of a poor run at Deauville too.