Ground-breaking successes in the Derby and Melbourne Cup meant 2018 couldn’t be regarded as anything other than a resounding success for Charlie Appleby. The sidelining of Classic hope Quorto has taken a little of the gloss off the start of 2019, but three winners (including two Group 1s) on Dubai World Cup night show there is still plenty of quality on which to build.
“Last year couldn’t have gone any better,” says the trainer. “We had a very productive carnival in Dubai, six winners at the Craven meeting, five winners at the Guineas meeting and plenty of momentum that we sustained throughout the season.
“People ask how are we going to follow it up – well, the ambition is just to maintain that quality. Last year it was great to be winning races that 12 months earlier we hadn’t even been sighted in, which showed that if you knock long enough at the door, sometimes it’s going to open. My aim this year is to make sure we’re competitive again at the top end. We may not win those races, but if we’re competitive in them, we give ourselves a chance.
“We’ve had more horses wintering in Dubai, which can only be a benefit, but it’s very much about the calibre of the horses and I’m lucky that the quality of the homebreds has been improving year on year. To be able to campaign in Dubai and then come back here and hit the ground running is fantastic.
“After World Cup night I’d have to say that our strength will lie in our older horses, but I’d say that we have quality in depth throughout the team. We’re probably stronger among the colts than among the fillies in the Classic division and the two-year-olds look an exciting bunch – both the homebreds and those we’ve purchased at the sales.”
Yard Moulton Paddocks
Where Newmarket, Suffolk
Started training 2013
Finest hour A first Derby and Melbourne Cup last season
Horses in yard 180
Strike-rate last season 28%
Racing secretary Hannah Pollard
Senior assistant trainer Marie Murphy
Assistant trainer Alex Merriam (Newmarket), Sophie Chretien (Dubai)
Jockeys William Buick, James Doyle
Winners in Britain
Profit/loss to a £1 stake
Total prize-money in 2018
Iffraaj (sire) – Roscoff (dam)
Form figures: 2111-1
Racing Post Rating 114; Official rating 107
He progressed well through the winter and we knew going into the Lincoln he had a lot going for him, and we were delighted with the style of his victory. He’s come out of the race well – although the handicapper has reassessed him – but I’m not going to throw him in at the deep end straight away. The plan is to take him to Ascot for the Listed Paradise Stakes over a mile on May 1, and see if we can progress from there. Physically he looks a scopey type who will continue to get better with age and is exciting.
5h Shamardal – Scarlett Rose
RPR 123 OR 120
At the start of his three-year-old career he was in the thick of a pretty hot sprinting division and he hit the crossbar a few times over the course of a couple of seasons, but this year I’d say he’s the finished article both mentally and physically. He’s there now, there’s not much more we can add to him and what he’s done in Dubai in the spring, over 6f and 7f, has shown just how professional he’s become. He travels well until you want to press the button, and then there’s great acceleration at the end of it. I’d say a repeat of last season’s win in the King’s Stand Stakes would be the first target. He brings his A-game to Ascot and if we get him there fit and well on a sound surface he’ll be the one they all have to beat.
4g Teofilo – Waitress
RPR 119 OR 114
You’ve seen plenty of horses win the Melbourne Cup and not be sighted from that day onward, and you don’t know how much the exertion and the travel will leave its mark on a three-year-old, so we were delighted when he came out and won the Dubai Gold Cup in such great style. What he showed us there was his class – he travelled well throughout and although Ispolini got first run on him, he found again and was on top at the finish. On that evidence we’ll stick to Europe and go down the Cup route with him, aiming at the Ascot Gold Cup as his first run back in Britain. It obviously opens up some exciting clashes with Stradivarius, with the big bonus on offer, but although that’s a very attractive proposition we won’t go chasing the money, we’ll go where it’s right for the horse. He goes on most ground and placing him shouldn’t be hard.
5g Dubawi – Savannah Belle
RPR 115 OR 111
He had a productive year last year, winning a Group 3 at Haydock over 7f and dropping back to 6f a couple of times and proving he could be competitive at a very decent level. I’d say, though, that 7f is his optimum trip and after his impressive win in Grade 2 company at that distance in Meydan in January, we sent him to Australia for a shot at the All Aged Stakes at Randwick on April 20. I think he could be a nice international competitor for us.
4c Dubawi – Nightime
RPR 120 OR 114
A very exciting horse who was one of our big Classic hopes last year but had a setback just before the Dante. We gave him plenty of time to get over that and he had just the one run – an impressive victory in a Group 3 over 1m2f at Longchamp in September. He’s another progressive Dubawi colt who has done all the right things at home and after a very pleasing victory in Grade 2 company over 1m2f in the Prix d’Harcourt back at Longchamp last weekend, we’ll aim next at the Group 1 Prix Ganay at the same track on April 28, with the Arc being the long-term target. I wouldn’t say he lacks a change of gear, but he’s a big, powerful horse and his biggest asset is that when he gets to the front he’s relentless and just keeps piling it on.
4g Dubawi – Nature Spirits
RPR 109 OR 105
Broke the track record for about an hour when he won the Melrose at York last year, before it was broken again in the Ebor, but looks a very progressive stayer and we’ll work back from the Melbourne Cup with him. We’ll take a look at a win-and-you’re-in trial for that race in Australia in late May, but we won’t make any decisions just yet. Decent ground, maybe a bit on the slower side, would be ideal.
4g Dubawi – Giants Play
RPR 118 OR 105
He started to show his true form when we stepped him up to 1m6f at Meydan in January, and although he wasn’t quite a match for Cross Counter in the Dubai Gold Cup, he improved again for the 2m trip that day, travelling well through the race and looking as though he could easily drop back again to 1m6f for the Yorkshire Cup as his first target of the year in Britain.
4c New Approach – Khawlah
RPR 122 OR 121
It was very disappointing when he picked up an injury having won the Derby, but we made the call very early to give him every chance to turn up as a four-year-old and didn’t push him at all in his recuperation. We’re very happy with where he is and what he’s doing, and if we can keep progressing the way we have been over the last two or three months, we’ve got a good shot at getting him back. Royal Ascot would be the target, all being well when we really start to push on, and I’d probably favour the Hardwicke rather than throwing him in at the deep end in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes against horses who may be a stride quicker than him. A sound surface would be ideal and I certainly wouldn’t run him on soft first time out.
4g Iffraaj – Mythie
RPR 110 OR 106
He had two starts in Dubai, winning when stepped up to a mile in Group 2 company. He’s got stronger as he’s gone on, and although we were considering taking him to Australia, we thought he’d get decent ground in the Lockinge at Newbury on May 18 and he deserves a try at a decent pot in this country.
4c Dubawi – Indian Petal
RPR 122 OR 118
He had a very good season last year, winning four, including what now looks a very good Great Voltigeur, beating a Melbourne Cup winner in Cross Counter while carrying a penalty. We rolled the dice in the St Leger but he blatantly didn’t stay, so he had a nice break, made all the natural progression you’d expect of a son of Dubawi, and won twice in Meydan last month, at Group 2 and Group 1 level, showing proper tactical speed to get himself out of trouble in the Dubai City Of Gold and a serious gear change to get up on the line, then putting the race to bed nicely in the Sheema Classic. We may drop to 1m2f for the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, working back from the King George, which is the kind of race he deserves to be going for.
4f Dubawi – Speirbhean
RPR 109 OR 103
Won her two starts in Dubai and has done her job for the breeding sheds, but we’d like her to have the Grade 1 tag, so we’ll probably look for something in America for her. Possible races are the Gamely Stakes at Santa Anita in May and the Diana Stakes at Saratoga in July, both over 1m1f on turf.
4f Dubawi – Dysphonia
RPR 110 OR 109
A bit of a forgotten horse. She ran well in both British and Irish Guineas after landing the Nell Gwyn but had a bit of a setback in the early summer and didn’t make it on to the track again. She’s back in full work and we may look to France with her, possibly the Listed Prix Maurice Zilber over 7f at Longchamp on May 12, and if we can get her back to where she was she can be competitive at Group 2 and Group 3 level. She’d want decent ground and would act with a bit of juice.
4f Dubawi – Rumh
RPR 116 OR 116
She’s been a stable star for a couple of years, finishing second in the Oaks and ending last season with a second in the Filly & Mare Turf at Churchill Downs. She’s in great order and we’ll look to the summer with her, maybe the Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville in August. She’d want decent ground and would handle a bit of cut.
c Dubawi – Ambivalent
RPR 101 OR –
Two from two last season, including a Listed race over a mile at Deauville in August. He’s wintering in Dubai, doing well and will reappear in the Newmarket Stakes at the Craven meeting, where we hope the step up in trip, allied to his stout bloodline, will see him progress even further. I’d like to think when he steps up to 1m4f we’ll have a nice horse on our hands, and if he runs well at Newmarket then he’d head for the Dante.
f Dandy Man – Lauren’s Girl
RPR 106 OR 106
A Grade 1 winner in Canada as a two-year-old, she was consistent and probably had one run too many when unplaced in the Juvenile Fillies Turf at the Breeders’ Cup. She’s done well over the winter and I’ve got the French Classic trials in mind if she falls short of real Classic material. She may go back to America at some stage.
Line Of Duty
c Galileo – Jacqueline Quest
RPR 114 OR 114
An exciting Classic prospect who finished on a high by winning the Juvenile Turf over a mile at Churchill Downs. He’s wintering in Dubai, doing well there and should progress when we step him up in trip. The plan is to bring him back for the 2,000 Guineas, which as we all know is the best trial for the Derby. He may not be sharp enough to win a Guineas but I’d be disappointed if he didn’t run well and that should be a platform for the rest of the season.
c Dubawi – Miss Lucifer
RPR 90 OR –
Won his maiden very nicely in the autumn on soft ground at Nottingham and has done well since. He goes for a conditions race at Newbury today over 1m2f, and although it’s very much a fact-finding mission, we know he’ll handle an easy surface and I think stepping up in trip will bring about improvement. He has plenty in his corner, but it’s a big leap from there to being a Derby contender.
c Shamardal – O’Giselle
RPR 90 OR –
An interesting horse, he beat a well-regarded odds-on shot of Roger Charlton’s on his only start at Kempton in November and has done great since. He’ll go to the Craven meeting, where we’ll decide between the Craven itself or the 7f conditions race. He shows a lot of natural ability and pace, and could be decent.
I’m very happy with the two-year-olds and I’m very fortunate to have a large bunch of home-bred Dubawis and Shamardals as well as plenty we’ve bought at the sales, so I’d be hopeful of unearthing some decent ones. There are plenty of nice individuals with good pages, and two that will probably go to the Craven meeting are a lovely Dark Angel colt out of Beautiful Ending, called Story Of Light, and a naturally speedy Invincible Spirit filly called Spring Of Love. I’d say, though, that we’ll be stronger when we start hitting the 6f maidens around York time.
Horse to follow
This strapping son of Dubawi was impressive when winning a 7f maiden at Newmarket in July and backed that up when digging in deep to win a Listed race at Deauville over a mile. He was still green on his two starts last season so should be a better horse this time and could prove to be top-class, with entries for the Dante and the Derby.