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New Kids on the Champions Series Block: Kameko

15 Jan 2020

This week we put emphatic Group 1 Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes winner Kameko under the microscope

Kameko

Horse: Kameko
Trainer: Andrew Balding

. Form: 1221

Qatar Racing Limited have come up with a winning formulae. Buy stock of Kitten’s Joy and then sit back and enjoy the show. Roaring Lion was a son of the American sire and proved a phenomenon, winning four successive Group 1 triumphs in 2018 after finishing third in the Investec Derby.

His death, after just a year in his second vocation as a stallion, was felt deeply by all racing fans. There will never quite like the tough grey, but if there is any justice Sheikh Fahad and his team will soon have another champion to cherish.Could Kameko, another of Kitten’s Joy’s offspring, be the one?

The $90,000 purchase got his career off to a perfect start when winning a steadily-run 7f maiden at Sandown in late July and looked unlucky not to follow up in the Group 3 Betway Solario Stakes over the same course and distance the following month – sticking to his task gamely but going down by a nose to Positive, who had previously chased home Pinatubo in the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood.

A month later, Kameko was a strong favourite for the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket but he was unable to repel the late rally of the Aidan O’Brien-trained Royal Dornoch and went down by a neck. The next two home were also O’Brien runners. It was another rock-solid run by Kameko but had he not been quite so keen to post, or perhaps in the race, the outcome might have been different. He was then among a dozen five-day entries for the Group 1 Vertem

Futurity at Doncaster. Remarkably, the other 11 entries were all trained by that man O’Brien! There was a twist when the race had to be switched to the all-weather at Newcastle, with Doncaster waterlogged. The race was re-opened and seven trainers ended up having runners, but it was still Kameko and O’Brien contenders who dominated. A strong pace suited Kameko and, clearly at home on the surface, he powered clear from two out to win by about three lengths under champion jockey Oisin Murphy. O’Brien horses filled the next three places.

Of course, it might have been that Kameko was in his element on the Tapeta surface at Newcastle, but it was not as if he had previously not shown bundles of promise/ability of turf A mile evidently poses him no problem, so that is one box ticked for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas on May 2, for which he is quoted at a general 16/1. He is an even shorter price for the Investec Derby – his ante-post odds range between 10/1 and 14/1 – but his pedigree hints that a mile-and-a-half might be a stretch for him. That said, he was a strong stayer over a mile at two, which lends encouragement.