It has been a long spring but for Andrew Balding and all involved with Qatar Racing, this year’s delayed renewal of the 2,000 Guineas proved well worth the wait as their Kameko ran out a popular winner of an edition fittingly in its tenth year of sponsorship by the owner’s affiliated QIPCO.

For months, the Classic chat had revolved around Godolphin’s unbeaten champion Pinatubo and in a show of unwavering support, he was ultimately sent off the 5/6 favourite. 

Yet Kameko had also done very little wrong at two, when his victories had included the Group 1 Vertem Futurity to cap a campaign that had elicited comparisons with Roaring Lion. There was the sense that the best was very much to come with the horse and indeed Sheikh Fahad’s racing manager David Redvers, who purchased Kameko for $90,000 as a Keeneland September yearling, spoke in glowing terms about him to Owner Breeder only last month.

“All the reports I’ve had this spring from Andrew Balding have been very encouraging,” he said. “He’s done very well – he’s filled out and gotten a lot stronger. I can see him being a mile, a mile and a quarter type of horse, and in a normal year, the obvious programme would have been the same one that Roaring Lion followed.”

Kameko en route to winning the 2000 Guineas. Pic: Edward Whitaker

Kameko lined up in the Guineas as certainly a stronger stamp of horse with a winter on his back – jockey Oisin Murphy later drew attention to the horse’s depth of heart room – and sent off at 10/1, justified the strong belief held in him with a performance that promised much for the rest of the season.

Settled in midfield Kameko as the outsiders Persuasion and Juan Elcano took the field towards the bushes, he showed a fine change of gear to close on the leaders when asked. Wichita had just got the better of Pinatubo when Kameko appeared to his outer, and despite hanging out to the centre of the course, such was his finishing momentum that at the line he had cosy half-length to spare in front of the empty stands. 

Wichita held on for second a length ahead of Pinatubo in third. Military March also ran a fine Derby trial back in fourth.

Victory provided a landmark achievement for Murphy, as he told Racing TV.

“I’ve never won a Classic in Britain and this means the absolute world to me,” he said. “It’s the stuff of dreams, and to do it with a son of Kitten’s Joy, the same sire as Roaring Lion – you couldn’t make it up. 

“Halfway I wasn’t that comfortable. The ground is quick underneath but loose on top and this horse has never encountered anything like that before. Once I let him go he really stuck his neck out – it was a gutsy performance.” 

Kameko was cut into 3/1 for the Derby and the question now is whether he can prove just as effective over 1m4f.

“Before today we viewed him as a 1m2f horse,” said Murphy. “Guineas winners always start favourite for the Derby if they go that route and obviously it would have to come into the equation. The decision won’t be made in the next week at least, it will be some time after.”

Oisin Murphy celebrates after winning the 2000 Guineas. Pic: Edward Whitaker

Kameko is the latest successful chapter in the inspiring story of Kitten’s Joy.

Kitten’s Joy was bred and raced by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, in whose colours he won the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and Secretariat Stakes. With Ramsey’s other top runner of that era, Dubai World Cup winner Roses In May, sold to stand in Japan, the colourful owner elected to stand Kitten’s Joy at his Ramsey Farm in Kentucky. The son of El Prado duly entered stud in 2006 at an opening fee of $25,000; yet while he covered three-figure books in each of his first five seasons, the bulk were made up of Ramsey mares, a number of whom were claimed off the track specifically for the job. 

Ramsey went on to breed each of his first 16 stakes winners and today can boast to have bred seven of his 14 Group/Grade 1 winners including current Lanwades Stud resident Bobby’s Kitten. The septet, however, does not include several of his European standouts, notably Roaring Lion (bred by Ranjan Racing) and Hawkbill (bred by Helen K Groves Revokable Trust), or Kameko, who was bred by Brad Kelley’s Calumet Farm in Kentucky.

Kitten’s Joy: sire of Kameko stood the past season for $75,000. Photo: Ramsey Farm/Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm

Kitten’s Joy did stay 1m4f well enough to win the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and several of his progeny have followed suit, including the Grade 1 winners Big Blue Kitten and Sadler’s Joy. 

Kameko, however, has obviously inherited plenty of miling pace from his dam Sweeter Still, a daughter of 2,000 Guineas winner Rock Of Gibraltar who was trained by Jeff Mullins to win the Grade 3 Senorita Stakes over a mile at Hollywood Park. Sweeter Still won three other Listed stakes in the US, all at around a mile. 

Bred in Ireland by Ann Marie O’Brien, Sweeter Still is a half-sister to Racing Post Trophy winner Kingsbarns and a member of the Mesopotamia family also responsible for the likes of Halling, Rip Van Winkle, Mukhadram and Just The Judge among many others.

Kameko is the fifth foal and sole winner out of Sweeter Still, who posseses a remarkable sales record. 

In 2014, the mare changed hands for $750,000 to Royal Oak Farm while in foal to Galileo at the Keeneland January Sale. Less than three years later, however, she sold for just $35,000 while carrying Kameko to Calumet Farm, who then resold her in November 2018 for just $1,500 in foal to Optimizer to Tim Lesley Thompson. 

The mare also has a two-year-old by Big Blue Kitten who made only $5,000 to Atlantic Bloodstock at last year’s Keeneland September Sale; that filly is lot 346 in the upcoming Arqana Breeze-Up Sale and should be highly sought after should she remain catalogued.

As for Kitten’s Joy, he has stood at John Sikura’s Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm in Kentucky since 2018, most recently for $75,000.

Winning Godolphin return for Frankie

Group 1 targets surely beckon for Terebellum following her smooth win for John Gosden in the Group 2 Dahlia Stakes.

Partnered by Frankie Dettori, who was winning in the Godolphin blue for the first time in eight years, the daughter of Sea The Stars was always travelling well and ultimately only had to be kept up to her work to hold off the challenge of Queen Power by a length and a quarter.

Terebellum made rapid progress for Gosden last summer, going from maiden winner to Group 2 heroine – when successful in the Prix de la Nonette at Deauville – within the space of three months. The four-year-old now looks well worth a return to Group 1 company.

“That is her trip and she wouldn’t have wanted deep ground today,” said Gosden. “We’ll see what we do going forward, there are races like the Pretty Polly at the Curragh and the Romanet at Deauville for her.”

Bred in Ireland by Alan O’Flynn, Terebellum is one of 38 Group winners by the Gilltown Stud-based Sea The Stars, himself winner of the 2,000 Guineas on this card back in 2009. 

She was purchased by Godolphin for €400,000 at the 2017 Arqana August Sale and is the best of two winners out of Group 3 Brownstown Stakes winner Marvada, an Elusive City relation to Group 1-winning two-year-old Charge d’Affaires.

Far and away the best

Far Above made light of a 335-day absence to continue his rapid upward trajectory with victory in the Group 3 Palace House Stakes.

Making his first start over 5f for trainer James Tate, Far Above showed good pace on the near rail to track Ornate before smoothly taking over in the hands of P J McDonald and holding off the late challenge of Judicial to win by three-quarters of a length.

It was only the fifth start of Far Above’s career and his first since victory in the Listed Prix Kistena at Deauville last July. With four wins now under his belt, he looks a likely type to take high order among the sprinting division this year.

“His homework is exceptional,” Tate told Racing TV. “It’s more of a question of keeping him in one piece rather than how fast is he – he’s very fast. He’s not bred for 5f – he just got faster and faster last year and then it was a case of throwing his pedigree out the window. He is the fastest horse I’ve ever had.”

Far Above is one of nine stakes winners by the highly successful but sub-fertile stallion Farhh. Winner of the Group 1 QIPCO Champion and Lockinge Stakes during his time on the track for Godolphin, the son of Pivotal has forged a versatile record at stud, with his best runners ranging from the likes of Far Above to Group 1-winning miler King Of Change and high-class stayer Dee Ex Bee. The Darley stallion stood the past season for £12,000.

Far Above was bred in Ireland by Mohamed Abdul Malik out of the winning Dorraar, a Shamardal relation to Group 1 winner Nahrain. He was purchased by Matt Whyte for 18,000gns as a Tattersalls October Book 3 yearling and turned a fine profit the following spring when resold for 105,000gns at the Tattersalls Guineas Breeze-Up Sale to Blandford Bloodstock.