Qatar Racing's Kameko was a very impressive winner of the rescheduled Gr.1 Vertem Futurity Trophy at Newcastle on Friday evening.
Kameko lined up as an 11/2 shot in an 11-runner field - the first Gr.1 to be held on the All-Weather in Britain - and tanked through the race in midfield before quickening to lead under 2f out. He hit the line with three and a quarter lengths to spare, giving recently crowned champion jockey Oisin Murphy his first win in the race. Qatar Racing and trainer Andrew Balding had conbined to win the race (when known as the Racing Post Trophy) with Elm Park in 2014.
Kameko was followed home by three of the five Ballydoyle runners in Innisfree, Year of The Tiger and Mogul, with Kinross - who was sent off favourite despite having only won a novice - a few lengths further back in fifth. The race was run at a strong pace and in juvenile course record time of 1m 36.26s.
By the same sire as the late Roaring Lion - Kitten's Joy - Kameko's success was a poignant one for the Qatar Racing team. Just as Roaring Lion was an excellent buy at $160,000 as a yearling in America, so was Kameko who cost $90,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale when knocked down to David Redvers. Kameko was consigned by Paramount Stables and bred by Calumet Farm.
He now looks a natural contender to follow the Roaring Lion path of running in the 2,000 Guineas next spring before possibly stepping up in trip. He is currently 16/1 for the first classic of 2020 with Pinatubo heading the market at 11/10.
Balding told the racing press after the Vertem Futurity: "I think the whole idea of the Guineas is you try and get the best three-year-old colts there.
"We haven't achieved anywhere near the level Pinatubo has yet but in six months time, who knows? We won't be running scared of one horse, there will be others as well and that's what it's all about."
"He's got a long way to go to emulate Roaring Lion, but it was a start. He's a fantastic horse to train and he's very straightforward. I'm really looking forward to him next year.