Appleby’s cart is delicately balanced ahead of Royal Ascot

Godolphin has given trainer ‘freer rein’ but it means he is under pressure to deliver in races like the ones this week, writes Geoffrey Riddle
Charlie Appleby chats with jockey William Buick at Goodwood Racecourse on May 22, 2014 in Chichester, England. Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images
Charlie Appleby chats with jockey William Buick at Goodwood Racecourse on May 22, 2014 in Chichester, England. Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images

Charlie Appleby is acutely aware on the eve of Royal Ascot that, with the great power entrusted to him last year, he has taken on great responsibility.

Appleby was appointed as a Godolphin trainer a month after last year’s Royal meeting and, going in to his first five-day extravaganza in charge of Moulton Paddocks, he has made it clear that only his hands are on the tiller in Newmarket.

Mickael Barzalona has been shown the exit and will not ride for Appleby this week as he rebuilds his career under the guiding arm of Andre Fabre in France.

When Mahmood Al Zarooni was in charge before he was banned for eight years last season for giving horses in his care anabolic steroids, the familiar refrain after races was that he had to consult either Simon Crisford, the former racing manager, or Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Those strings may have been loosened, but the onus now is on Appleby to deliver like never before.

“I am finding my own stable and, in respect to placing horses and which jockeys I use, it is down to me,” he said.

“Obviously the two year olds and the better horses in the camp will be discussed with His Highness, and hopefully we can come to an agreement about what we do with them.

“Sheikh Mohammed has given me a freer rein. I said I will do the best I can and hopefully the results will follow.”

Where Kieren Fallon has found riding out in Dubai has helped his career blossom, so has William Buick, who has been the beneficiary to Barzalona’s departure.

Buick was among a band of jockeys, such as Fallon, Ted Durcan and Hayley Turner, who rode work for Godolphin during the Dubai World Cup Carnival and will partner Appleby’s Ahtoug in the King’s Stand Stakes Tuesday, as well as Breeders’ Cup hero Outstrip in the St James’s Palace Stakes.

Portamento in the Coventry Stakes and Four Seasons in the Windsor Castle Stakes are other eye-catching mounts Buick has hoovered up.

“Mickael is a class jockey,” Appleby said. “He’s only young and he’s got a bright future ahead of him.

“It is a tradition to have a stable jockey in Europe.

“I am not saying it is right or wrong but, come the first week of November when the season is drawing to an end, here it will be easier for everybody to say I’ve made a huge mistake, or whether I have got it right.

“I want the best jockeys that are suited to my horses and I don’t want to be one dimensional. Sometimes you can get the best jockey in the country and he just doesn’t gel with a particular horse. I would imagine these arrangements will continue in Dubai, but we’ll see.”

Despite the promise of Ahtoug and Outstrip, there is no question that Certify remains Appleby’s stable flag-bearer at a meeting that means the world to his employer. The wildly impressive Cape Verdi winner takes her chance in the Group 2 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes tomorrow under James Doyle.

Certify was one of the 22 horses who were administered steroids at Moulton Paddocks last year but triumphed on her return to the track after a 16-month absence, six of which were enforced.

It has been a regular occurrence for the past two seasons in Dubai that horses based at Marmoom Stables have run well on their seasonal debut only to struggle next time out. Certify was another to have followed that pattern and, after the Cape Verdi, she bombed in the Balanchine in February when considered the overwhelming favourite.

“That evening she showed classic signs of being in season, but she wouldn’t be the first horse of mine in Dubai who came off a long lay-off who ran well first night and struggled second time,” Appleby said.

“We are generally a yard that runs three year olds and those three year olds have generally only just turned three at that stage and it is hard to back up horses of that age week to week.

“You don’t know until you run them, but going into this week she is showing the right signs and I am looking forward to seeing her run at Ascot.”

Appleby’s burden became much greater eight weeks ago, when he became a father for the third time. With increased responsibility on and off the track, the Godolphin trainer can only step up to the plate.

Failure is not an option.

Follow us on Twitter @SprtNationalUAE

Published: June 16, 2014 04:00 AM


Editor's Picks
Sign up to:

* Please select one