William Buick is “hungrier and more focused” as he bids to erase the memory of a frustrating 2019 aboard Pinatubo in the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas.
Buick and boss Charlie Appleby could do little wrong two summers ago, uniting to lift the Investec Derby aboard Masar among a host of big race triumphs.
But the jockey was forced to miss 12 weeks of last year’s campaign – he was sidelined with a head injury between May and August – and is keen to get this season off to a flying start when champion two-year-old Pinatubo bids to justify his status as the odds-on favourite for the colts’ Classic at Newmarket on Saturday week.
“When you’re a jockey – or any other athlete – when you’re injured and missing out, it is always frustrating,” said Buick, whose lay-off ruled him out of partnering the Charlie Appleby trainee on his first four starts, including a three-and-a-quarter-length margin in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot last June.
“But seeing horses perform how they did – for example, at Royal Ascot – it was great to see.
“Of course, you wish you were the jockey that was on them on those days, but I wasn’t. I was injured, and it was great to see them win.
“Those sort of things make you a little hungrier and a little bit more focused on getting back to riding them.”
But Buick was on board for Pinatubo’s stunning nine-length supremacy in the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh last September.
“It was one of those performances that you very rarely see in a Group 1,” added the 31-year-old, also in the saddle when the son of Shamardal completed an unbeaten campaign with a sixth score in the top-level Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket the following month.
Pinatubo is the 6-1 market leader for the Derby on July 4, and Appleby believes the colt’s laid-back demeanour is an asset for an attempt at a mile and a half.
“Watching him as an individual, he’s got the right mindset to be able to do it,” said the trainer.
“He switches off so well.”