If any further proof were needed that we are living in strange times, the fact Charlie Appleby missed his Derby winner Adayar following up in the King George And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes through self-isolation just about confirmed it.
It became apparent Appleby was not on track when his New Science won the opening Listed race – and his assistant Alex Merriam duly delivered the news why.
While Appleby later admitted his pain at not being present to witness his fine-looking colt become the first Derby winner since Galileo 20 years ago to follow up at Ascot, having already gone down in history at Epsom, it will soften the blow that he now clearly possesses the two best three-year-old, mile-and-a-half horses in training.
Adayar had stablemate Hurricane Lane back in third at Epsom, and that one has subsequently won the Irish Derby and another Group One in France, with the St Leger now on his agenda.
Appleby was surprised to see Adayar beat Hurricane Lane at Epsom, and subsequent events backed up that view, but the Derby hero was mighty again in front of around 15,000 spectators – who roared him home as the 9-4 winner – and he has now regained number one spot in the Godolphin team.
Pre-race, Appleby had said future plans would be dictated by this result – regarding who would be the yard’s main Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe contender – and with a host of Group One winners behind him, the Newmarket trainer feels Adayar is the one to beat.
Appleby said: “First and foremost, I’m delighted for His Highness (Sheikh Mohammed) in what was an historical event – it’s been 20 years since the great Galileo won the Derby and the King George, and the horse deserves all the plaudits he is getting.
“It was a good Derby- as we already knew – and coming into today, we were confident he was in great form. The ground wasn’t a concern, because he’d won on good to firm. I wouldn’t have used the ground as an excuse if he’d lost.
“It was a fantastic ride by William (Buick), who did all the right things, and it was a good race. When the bell went coming into Swinley Bottom, he put himself in the firing line and galloped all the way to the line.
“It was a great race to watch, a great race to be part of and most importantly for His Highness and everyone at Moulton Paddocks a great result.”
As for his absence, like millions of people, Appleby had been “pinged” by the NHS App.
“It’s bit of a pain not to be there. I saw the horse Wednesday morning – and that was the last time I was able to get to the yard and that was when he did his last piece of work. Of course, you’d love to be there for those historical moments – but my job was done. I have a fantastic team around me.
“I said to William this morning, he’s a fantastic jockey and knows his horses, riding them out all the time. It’s unusual for me to ring him before races, but I spoke to him three times today.
“I told him to jump to make it because he’s not quick enough to make the running, but jump as if you wanted to. Stamina is his strong suit, and I was confident something would take it off us. He then rode the perfect race.”
The general consensus at Appleby’s yard before the Derby was that Hurricane Lane was number one, with Adayar likely to head for the St Leger.
How the tables have turned.
“Pre-Derby we were thinking St Leger for this horse, and I told William to ride him as if it he stays a mile and six,” added Appleby.
“The conversations will be had, regarding the future. We’ll have a definitive answer within the next week but right now I’d be thinking this horse will be aimed at the Arc, with maybe the Prix Niel before it. Hurricane Lane will head towards the St Leger, and if he wins that in a fashion that makes the Arc achievable as well, then we’ll regroup after that.
“I’d be disappointed if people didn’t think Adayar was the best mile-and-a-half horse around – he’s won what looked a strong King George.
“He had the allowance, but that is there for a reason. I was confident he wouldn’t look like a three-year-old among them today – and looking on the TV, he didn’t look like the junior.
“He deserves to hold the crown, and I’d be confident he could hold it for the foreseeable future.”