Kerry rider Oisín Murphy claimed his first British classic on Saturday when 10-1 chance Kameko won the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.
The Andrew Balding-trained colt got the better of Aidan O’Brien’s Wichita (15/2) and the previously unbeaten hot favourite Pinatubo (5/6f), who came into the race unbeaten in six juvenile starts, and with the highest two-year-old rating for 25 years.
A race run in record time saw outsiders Persuasion and Juan Elcano set the early pace, with the main players in the market, namely Wichita, Arizona, Kameko and Pinatubo in contention nearing the two-furlong pole.
Killarney-born jockey Oisín Murphy came wide on Kameko to outstay Wichita (Frankie Dettori) by a neck, while Pinatubo (William Buick), who had every chance, finished a further length back in third place.
A delighted British Champion jockey, Oisín Murphy, said of today’s victory:
“I’ve never won a Classic in Britain and it means the absolute world to me. It’s the stuff of dreams. It was a gutsy performance. He hardly blew a candle out afterwards – he must have a tremendous amount of ability.”
Andrew Balding, the winning trainer, was delighted with Kameko’s success, stating:
“He was doing his best work late on and this is his minimum. He will stay further than this. He has always looked smart and he always looked like he would be a better three-year-old as well.”
Following today’s Qipco 2000 Guineas win, Kameko was promoted to Epsom Derby favouritism for the July 4th premier classic, with his trainer believing the Qatar Racing-owned colt will stay further:
“To me it looks the obvious choice, there would be a stamina doubt but there’s only one way to find out. He will certainly get a mile and a quarter, but there is a certain race over a mile and a half in July that would be quite appealing.”
The racing continues on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket on Sunday, with the second British classic of the season, the Qipco 1000 Guineas the day’s main contest.