Charlie Appleby secured his first win in the Qipco 2000 Guineas when Coroebus beat better-fancied stablemate Native Trail – and the trainer was emotional about providing James Doyle with his first victory in a British Classic.
Given there are only five of them a year it should be very tough to win one. But for such a talented horseman as Doyle, who has spent the large majority of his career riding for either the late Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte operation or Godolphin, he will have been presented with better chances than most.
There must have been a thought in his mind that the best opportunities had passed him by, as he was on board John Gosden’s brilliant Kingman when he met with his only defeat at three in the Guineas when beaten by 40-1 chance Night Of Thunder.
Doyle also had the chance to win with Adayar in the Cazoo Derby last season but preferred the claims of One Ruler, with William Buick on Hurricane Lane.
Buick and Doyle signed for Godolphin when both were 26 back in 2014, with Buick assigned to Appleby and Doyle with Saeed bin Suroor.
Unfortunately for Doyle and Bin Suroor their alliance never took off and they parted ways in 2016, but Doyle stayed on the Godolphin team and took up a role as number two to Buick at Appleby’s emerging yard.
He has not really looked back, but for a man at the peak of his powers, Doyle must have started to become a tad frustrated at always taking the leftovers from his great pal.
This looked a tricky choice for Buick, though, as despite Native Trail being the unbeaten champion juvenile, Coroebus had shown flashes of brilliance and Appleby had repeatedly stated there was very little between the pair.
And so it proved, with the Appleby runners coming clear and the 5-1 shot beating the 5-4 favourite by three-quarters of a length.
“I’m delighted for Team Godolphin for giving me the opportunity to train these horses and especially for James, for him to have his first Classic winner is very special,” said Appleby.
“He’s just a great team member. He’s got to sit there and see William getting first choice all the time but I’ve never seen him quibble or get upset, he just rides the same race day in day out and I take my hat off to him.
“James deserves that. What I love about the guy is he’s a friend. He’s always waiting to see what Will is riding. They are great second rides but it shows a great strength of character to still go out and do his best for you.”
Referring to the horses, Appleby added: “Last October I felt Coroebus could even be ahead of Native Trail, but he just hadn’t achieved the same on the track – it’s not often I get it right.
“We’ve had so many Dubawis through our hands and we’re getting to know them, the ones that are the real horses, and this one stood out in the spring. I said to Sheikh Mohammed I could run him in May but we didn’t want to do that as we viewed him as a longer-term project.
“Like any good horse he has a lot of natural pace and when they have that aligned with the physique he had you can’t help but get excited about them.”
For Doyle, it was justification for staying in his supporting role as long as he has.
“It is just amazing how hard it is to win this race. I’ve ridden some very good horses, Kingman and Barney Roy, I hate to mention them but they were as good as their generation at this stage but they both fell short through no fault of their own,” he said.
“I was a bit emotional pulling up as I couldn’t believe the way it worked out. It has been a tough couple of years. I’ve had good opportunities on Hurricane Lane in the Arc and things like that, but it just hasn’t worked out for whatever reason.
“So you have a few years on the sidelines a bit when you have previously had a good time of getting to feel what it is like to win these big races and when you don’t for a little while, it does frustrate you a little bit.
“When you do feel it again it is incredible. William is a great friend of mine and I think he would have known this meant a lot. He came up and said ‘you deserve that, well done’.
“He sees the work we both put in in the mornings and we have been best mates and competitors for a long time and he can sense I get frustrated when I see him riding all these good horses.
“Don’t get me wrong he is top drawer and it is incredible to be in the same team, but he can sense that I have been frustrated.”
It was a triumph made even more special for Doyle as his mother, Jaqueline, had flown in from America.
He added: “I have spoken to her and she was waiting for me before the prize giving and she gave me a big hug. She has been on the path with me and has seen the struggles I had to go through.
“She can relate and feel the things I go through and she has been a great mentor to me throughout my career.”