Fev Rover chasing international glory in Bahrain

Richard Fahey breaks new ground when Fev Rover takes her chance in the Bahrain International Trophy at Sakhir racecourse on Friday.

The 1000 Guineas third will be the North Yorkshire trainer’s first runner in the £500,000 contest, and is expected to relish conditions.

Fahey, whose filly will be ridden by Paddy Mathers, said: “I know she won the Prix Calvados on soft ground, but she’s a filly I’ve always wanted to get on quick ground. I’ve only had two opportunities this year and she was third in a Guineas and second in a Group Two in Ireland.

“She’s also a filly I’ve really wanted to step up in trip, but I’ve just never had the opportunity. Every time I found a race for her, it has rained all week, so it’s bound to rain before the race tomorrow!

“I do feel a mile and a quarter is where she needs to be. She’s been crying out for 10 furlongs. She needs to improve, but she might.”

David O’Meara’s globetrotting stalwart Lord Glitters was fifth last year. He has a 3lb penalty for his Group One win in the Jebel Hatta in March.

O’Meara said of Jason Watson’s mount: “I certainly think he still retains his ability. He had a very good winter in Dubai after running fifth in this race last year, and he was second to a progressive Godolphin horse (Real World) giving weight in the Group Three Strensall Stakes at York.

“His couple of races after that haven’t exactly gone to plan but he’s an old horse now and he feels his joints, so he likes the warmer weather.”

Four Godolphin contenders for the Group Three contest represent three different trainers, including Charlie Appleby with Barney Roy (James Doyle) and Zakouski (William Buick).

Appleby said: “We’ve been purposefully working back from the Bahrain International as it’s a race which is great to be part of. I was pleased with his comeback run in the Group Three Darley Stakes, on a track which doesn’t suit him.

“We got what we wanted out of it and hopefully he now has his racing brain back and engaged. I think the style of the race will suit him in Bahrain. It’s a slick track there and the tight turns will suit him. If he goes there with his old A-game, he’s going to be a big player.”

He added of Zakouski: “He’s been a competitive horse who we’ve seen mainly in Dubai. He’s another horse who I feel the conditions of the race will suit and I’m looking forward to running them both.”

Andre Fabre’s Magny Cours (Mickael Barzalona) ran a huge race to be third in Dubai World Cup and was second to Champion Stakes runner-up Dubai Honour in the Prix Dollar, while Saeed bin Suroor’s Sheema Classic fifth Dubai Future has the assistance of Frankie Dettori.

Like Fahey, Charlie Hills is happy to see fast ground for Pogo (Kieran Shoemark), last seen finding only Benbatl too good in the Joel Stakes at Newmarket.

He said: “Pogo needs fast ground. It looks like there will be plenty of pace on and the track should suit him.

“He’s been third in a Group One and his last run, placed in a Group Two, was as good as any. A lot of the track is downhill and if ever a horse is going to go a mile and a quarter, this is probably one of the tracks they should try it on.

“It suits the speed horses. We ran Afaak here two years ago and he was fourth, and he was a miler.”

Charlie Appleby planning Bahrain raid with Barney Roy and Zakouski

Charlie Appleby will go in search of further international honours as he sends Barney Roy and Zakouski to the £500,000 Group Three Bahrain International Trophy.

Appleby sent out three winners at the Breeders’ Cup meeting in America last week and four-times Group One winner Barney Roy is set to lead his challenge for the 10-furlong contest after he returned from a 391-day absence to finish fourth at Newmarket last month.

Stablemate Zakouski also returned from a lengthy layoff to win at Headquarters in October and Appleby hopes the duo can make their mark at Sakhir racecourse next Friday.

He said: “Our plan was to go for the Bahrain International Trophy with Barney Roy last year, but unfortunately on the back of his success in Germany he met with a setback.

“We’ve been purposefully working back from the Bahrain International as it’s a race which is great to be part of. I’d like to think that we’re going to go over there with a competitive horse as well.

“I was pleased with his comeback run in the Group Three Darley Stakes on a track which doesn’t suit him. We got what we wanted out of it and hopefully he now has his racing brain back and engaged. I think the style of the race will suit him in Bahrain.

“It’s a slick track there and the tight turns will suit him. If he goes there with his old A-game, he’s going to be a big player.”

Godolphin could have another contender in the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Dubai Future, while other British challengers could include the David O’Meara-trained Lord Glitters, Richard Fahey’s Fev Rover, Pogo from Charlie Hills’ yard and the Ralph Beckette-trained Victory Chime.

Andre Fabre’s Magny Cours and Jessica Harrington’s Cadillac are other familiar names entered.

Yibir completes Breeders’ Cup hat-trick for Appleby and Buick

Yibir capped an incredible Breeders’ Cup for Charlie Appleby and William Buick when flying home late to pip Broome in the Turf.

Aidan O’Brien’s Broome, ridden by Irad Ortiz, looked to have put the race to bed with a decisive move turning into the short home straight, taking a couple of lengths out of the field.

Yibir had been settled at the rear by William Buick, who along with last year’s winner Tarnawa, had a posse of horses in front of him with just two furlongs to run.

But once Buick pulled the Great Voltiguer winner out into the home straight, Yibir hit his full stride and ran down Broome comfortably in the end.

Roger Varian’s Teona was not far back in third, with O’Brien’s Japan in fourth. Tarnawa found little in the finish and was well beaten.

Appleby and Buick won the Juvenile Turf with Modern Games on Friday and the Mile with Space Blues earlier on Saturday’s card.

Buick said: “Once I turned halfway down the back straight, I was in a better position. I followed Tarnawa but she was never going as well as I thought she would.

“It was the one race I didn’t know how to assess. Yibir is a complex character, as you saw last time he ran over here, I was just hoping he saved a bit for the finish.

“Halfway round the turn I could see Broome had gone, but my horse picked up in a way you rarely see. It was a great performance from a young, up and coming horse.”

Appleby said: “As you’ve seen he’s run some quite indifferent races this season, like at Goodwood, but then he ran well at York.

“The key was getting him to settle and Jamie Spencer did that at Belmont.

“It was a hard ride for William, he was taking him on but it all worked out.”

As well as saddling three winners, Appleby also had two withdrawn at the start over the course of the meeting and said: “It’s been a fantastic weekend, I can even take a couple home fresh!

“There were lots of emotions (on Friday) and I felt sorry for the crowd that winning tickets didn’t come off.

“I knew the right horse was left in the gate in Space Blues and Yibir was the icing on the cake – he’s been galloping with all our best middle-distance three-year-olds.

“Next year this horse brings experience to the table in middle-distance races. We won’t be taking anything to Hong Kong, they will all have well-earned vacations.”

O’Brien said of his three runners: “Broome ran a great race and we thought he was in good form. He was just a bit lazy in front, while Ryan (Moore on Japan) got chopped and Frankie (Dettori) said Bolshoi Ballet was too babyish.”

Varian was pleased with Teona’s effort and said: “David gave her a great ride.

“It’s not an ideal track for her, but she ran a race of real credit. She’s a lengthener and we had to angle out, and didn’t have the acceleration to put the race to bed.”

Tarnawa disappointed in her title defence
Tarnawa disappointed in her title defence (Niall Carson/PA)

Tarnawa was last seen when narrowly beaten in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp last month, going down by just three-quarters of a length in testing conditions.

Jockey Colin Keane felt that French outing may have left its mark as the mare came home 11th.

He said: “She ran flat. I think France last time on very soft ground took plenty out of her. She seemed fine after the race.”

Space Blues enjoys perfect swansong with Mile glory

Space Blues provided Charlie Appleby and William Buick with a second winner of the weekend as he bowed out with victory in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Del Mar.

Incredibly, after the drama before Friday’s Juvenile Turf which saw the Appleby-trained Albahr scratched after becoming upset in the stalls and stablemate Modern Games claim the prize, something similar happened again.

His 2000 Guineas runner-up Master Of The Seas reared and hit his head on the stalls and protocol in America meant that he was immediately backed out and withdrawn. Thankfully the horse appeared fine on jogging back and James Doyle escaped injury.

That meant Appleby was down to just one runner in Space Blues, the Prix de la Foret winner, who was stepping up in trip for the first time since 2019.

Once Buick was able to break well and sit in third through the first half of the race, everything else went to plan with the pace only steady.

As Space Blues again displayed a potent turn of foot which he has been showing off in Europe all year, he might not have been going away at the finish but it was the perfect way to end a prolific career.

Appleby said: “The leader set nice, sensible fractions and I knew that would play to his attributes and that he could use his gear change.

“He’s not a natural mile horse back at home, but over seven (furlongs) and now in a Grade One over a mile here, he’s shown himself to be a true champion.

“He’s been a great servant and I’m delighted he’s retired on the world’s biggest stage.”

Regarding the incident before the race, Appleby added: “I am pleased to say that Master Of The Seas and James are both all right. The horse jogged past me after being scratched and the rules are there to abide by.

“We’ve never had any issues with him before, but it just shows what happened now and yesterday what a big test it is for the horses on this stage.”

Buick said: “He’s a real pro, this horse. He’s been round the block and knows the game.

“I had a plan in my head how I thought it would work out and in fact it worked out a little better.

“The leader set reasonable fractions and I got the perfect trip. Today was all about getting the trip.”

Dramatic victory for Modern Games in Juvenile Turf

Charlie Appleby’s Modern Games powered to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf glory in extraordinary circumstances.

All the drama happened at the stalls, with stablemate Albahr becoming upset and subsequently withdrawn, and race favourite Modern Games – who was in the stall next to Albahr – also scratched by officials after coming out of the front of the stalls.

Confusion reigned as veterinary staff ruled he was in fact fit to race – and while it was decided he would be reinstated, rules dictated he could run for prize-money only and not for betting purposes.

The race was thankfully without incident, and when William Buick engaged top gear he swept clear to win in style from Tiz The Bomb and Mackinnon. However, unhappy racegoers vented their frustration with boos.

Appleby was delighted with the ultimate outcome, and just as pleased to report Albahr had what was thought to be only superficial cuts and that Frankie Dettori was unscathed.

It was a third win in the race for the Moulton Paddocks handler, who said: “It was a very peculiar chain of events and mentally very challenging for the horse, but I always felt he had the experience.

“The most important thing is that both horses are all right, and fortunately Modern Games pulled it out of the fire for us. He was actually under the pump a bit earlier than normal, but he picked up and kept finding.

“Albahr has some minor cuts and my vets are examining him. We were expecting the worst, but fortunately he’s OK.”

He added of the winner: “He will join our Guineas squad for next year. We will ship him back to the UK and winter away with him.”

William Buick celebrates with Modern Games
William Buick celebrates with Modern Games (PA)

Buick said: “There was a lot of confusion back there, but the horse did nothing wrong. They opened the front gate and he jumped out – he should have come of the back instead of the front.

“The guy that opened my gate pulled me out of the front and he told the officials what he did. Maybe there was a bit of confusion and panic, but my horse wasn’t harmed in any way. He was never touched.

“You could see how professional he was and he took everything in his stride.”

He added: “I don’t know why he was scratched, I was told afterwards.

“I knew he was going to run so I don’t want to focus on the whys and wherefores. It was out of my control.

“The booing was disappointing because he put up a very good performance.”

Blues bids for victorious swansong in Breeders’ Cup Mile

Space Blues bids to add his name to an illustrious list of European-trained winners of the Breeders’ Cup Mile when he leads a two-pronged attack from Charlie Appleby on the Del Mar showpiece.

The Prix de la Foret victor is joined by stablemate Master Of The Seas, who was runner-up to Poetic Flare in the 2000 Guineas but has been restricted to just two outings since that effort on the Rowley Mile.

Having won his maiden over a mile as a two-year-old, Saturday’s distance is not quite an unknown for Space Blues – but he has not run over it since his third career start, and has made his name as a crack six and seven-furlong performer.

Appleby said: “We’ve been delighted with his last two starts when winning both the (City Of) York Stakes and then the Foret. This will be the last run of his career; I’d imagine we’ll be retiring him after this. He’s done us proud.

“I feel a sharp mile round Del Mar will suit him. As we’ve all seen, he’s a great traveller. It’ll be quicker ground than he’s run on in his last two starts, but it doesn’t worry me becaue he won in Saudi Arabia on quick ground, and at Deauville. He’s a very versatile horse.

“He’ll travel for fun around there – and if the gaps appear he’s got the acceleration.”

Master Of The Seas returned to action with a creditable third place in the Joel Stakes at Newmarket in September, before finishing seventh in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot – where the ground was not in his favour.

With William Buick aboard Space Blues, James Doyle takes the mount on Master Of The Seas.

Appleby said: “We probably saw him at his best when he was just touched off in the Guineas on quick ground. He won the Craven Stakes before that Guineas second, then met with a setback.

“I was delighted with his comeback run in the Joel Stakes. He’s most definitely come forward from it fitness-wise. On Champions Day the ground was just too soft for him. I was keen, though, to get another run into him because he’d missed a large chunk of the summer.

“He’s come out of that race well, and I think back at a mile on quick ground will suit him.”

Aidan O’Brien won the race for the first time last year, when Order Of Australia led home a one-two-three for Ballydoyle.

His representative this time is 1000 Guineas heroine Mother Earth, a filly who has barely put a foot wrong but has not always enjoyed the best of luck – as witnessed by the trouble in running she suffered in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown.

Frankie Dettori celebrates winning the 1000 Guineas with Mother Earth
Frankie Dettori celebrates winning the 1000 Guineas with Mother Earth (Mike Egerton/PA)

O’Brien said: “She’s been unlucky probably her last twice. The horses who beat her at Leopardstown she beat four or five lengths the next time, but when that happens (trouble in running) you lose Group Ones – and you never like that.

“I thought her last run at Ascot (fifth in the QEII) could be her best, because she clocked the final two furlongs better than any other horse’s time in the race.

“She seems well so far, and we’re looking forward to seeing her run. If there is a decent pace, she will run well.”

O’Brien added of the Breeders’ Cup in general: “It’s a special event at the end of our season. It’s great that the horses can come together and be compared across the world, at various distances and ages.

“It’s great prize-money; the racing is competitive, and everybody is looked after very well. I think at this time of year it’s where everybody likes to be with a horse good enough to compete in those championship races.”

The Paddy Twomey-trained Pearls Galore is another contender for Europe with strong credentials, after finishing second in the Matron and occupying the same spot in the Foret.

Dangers abound among the home squad, notably Mo Forza (Peter Miller/Flavien Prat), Smooth Like Strait (Mike McCarthy/Umberto Rispoli) and In Love (Paulo Lobo/Alexis Achard).

Of Smooth Like Strait, Rispoli said in his blog for XB Net: “Although his front-running style will always leave him potentially vulnerable to a fast finisher, a win in this super competitive heat will make up for a season where he’s only been a whisker shy of greatness.

“His work sectionals have been sharp, and this race has been the plan all year. Hopefully, we can pull it off together from the front end. It will take a Herculean effort against the likes of Space Blues and In Love, but I couldn’t ask for a more willing or talented partner.”

Appleby has high hopes for powerful Breeders’ Cup team

Charlie Appleby was on track at Del Mar on Tuesday as he prepares a strong team for the two-day Longines Breeders’ Cup meeting.

Appleby has enjoyed a year to remember and is all but assured of being crowned champion trainer in Britain for the first time.

In no small part that is due to Adayar, winner of the Derby and King George, and Hurricane Lane, who won the Dante and St Leger – but Appleby also houses two strong contenders for next year’s Classics in Native Trail and Coroebus.

Neither of those four are in America, but this year’s 2000 Guineas runner-up Master Of The Seas is and he will run in the Mile, ridden by James Doyle, with William Buick partnering Space Blues, winner of the Prix de la Foret last time out.

Albahr, already a Grade One winner in Canada, runs in the Juvenile Turf on Friday, along with Modern Games, while Walton Street, winner of the Canadian International, and Yibir, who won the Jockey Club Derby at Belmont, both go in the Turf.

Appleby said: “In the Juvenile Turf Modern Games comes in off the back of a nice win in the Sommerville Stakes. He’s got a nice draw and I think he’s got the pace to travel well around here and he’s probably going to be a worthy favourite. With the rub of the green he’ll be hard to beat.

“Albahr was last seen winning at Woodbine and brings experience into the race, but he’s similar to Line Of Duty (winner in 2018) in a fashion – he’s earned his stripes to get here.

“He might not be the sharpest and best horse in the race, but he’ll be tough and will enjoy the hustle and bustle. We’ve two live players with two nice draws if they can make the most of it.”

On Saturday Appleby has four runners, two in each of the Mile and the Turf.

He said: “Master Of The Seas and Space Blues run in the Mile and I imagine Space Blues will be favourite, he’s got a nice draw in three and the perfect profile coming into the race, winning the York Stakes and we saw him winning the Foret.

Space Blues will be among the favourites for the Mile
Space Blues will be among the favourites for the Mile (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“A few people have questioned stepping up to a mile and on a sounder surface, but he won in Saudi on quick ground and he won in Deauville on quick ground, so the surface doesn’t worry me. As regards the trip he broke his maiden over a mile.

“Admittedly it’s a different ball game winning a maiden at Nottingham to running round here over a mile, but he’s the class horse in the race. He travels well and is a big player off his draw.

“Master Of The Seas has had an interrupted season having finished second in the Guineas and we saw how good that Guineas was. He ran a lovely race in the Joel (Stakes) and we were really pleased with that run. We debated whether to come straight here after that, as it’s always been our plan to work back from the Breeders’ Cup Mile with him, but he showed his wellness so I gave him one more run in the QEII.

“He travelled well, but the ground was too soft him that day. The race will suit him, they’ll go a good, strong gallop on quick ground – hopefully he’s got a target to aim for, he can get the splits and he’ll run a big race.”

He went on: “In the Turf we run Walton Street and Yibir, the young and the old!

“Walton Street has been around the block a few times, but he deserves to be here having won the Canadian International in good style. You couldn’t fault him, and he had a lovely profile in Dubai last winter. He brings a wealth of experience and is very straightforward to ride – James can put him where he wants in the race and while he might not be good enough to win he’s a big each-way shot.

“The young contender is Yibir who we gelded halfway through the season. After gelding him he went and won the Bahrain Trophy, but then we saw a little bit of the old Yibir at Goodwood, where he decided to be a bit keen and over-raced. We put the hood back on and he won the Great Voltgieur and followed that up with a great win in the Belmont Derby.

“He brings American experience to the table and is the youngster in amongst them, if he brings his A game he’s got a big each-way shot.”

Appleby seeking further Newmarket gains with trainers’ title in sight

Charlie Appleby is on the verge of being crowned champion trainer for the first time and victories for With The Moonlight and Zakouski at Newmarket this weekend will further help his cause.

It has been a year to remember for Appleby, with Adayar winning the Derby and King George, Hurricane Lane the Irish Derby and St Leger and Native Trail ending a perfect juvenile season by claiming the Dewhurst.

Appleby is over £500,000 clear of John and Thady Gosden in the championship, and it would take an almighty effort from the duo to rein in the Godolphin trainer at the head of affairs.

“Without doubt it will be great to get on the CV and hopefully we can get it across the line,” said Appleby.

Adayar striding to victory in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes
Adayar striding to victory in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Nigel French/PA)

“More importantly it is fantastic for the team and something I will always be in debt to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed for giving us the opportunity and giving me the support to achieve it.

“Once it is in our hands it will be great and hopefully everyone who has been involved in it can take huge satisfaction and be proud of what they have achieved as it has been a big team effort.”

It has been some season for Appleby at HQ, too, notching up his 100th success on the Rowley Mile with Siskany at the Dewhurst meeting.

“Achieving our 100th Rowley Mile winner was great with Siskany, but both there and the July Course we enjoy supporting,” he said.

“We enjoy racing there first and foremost and it supports our programme. To achieve what we have at both tracks was great for everybody involved.

“It is great racing there and to have the winners we have had, but more importantly the calibre of winners we’ve had at the Rowley Mile, has been great.”

As for his prospects of winning two of the three Listed races at the final meeting of the season with Zakouski, bidding for a repeat win in the 888Sport What’s Your Thinking Ben Marshall Stakes, and With The Moonlight in the British Stallion Studs EBF Montrose Fillies’ Stakes, Appleby has high hopes.

“Zakouski is in great order, but obviously this is his first run in Britain this year. However, we are pleased with his level of fitness,” he said.

“Hopefully if he can go and run well or win that might give him an opportunity to head to the Bahrain International Trophy next month. He won this race last year on bottomless ground.

“With The Moonlight had her first start at the July Course and then went on to win around Chelmsford. She then progressed again to go and win comfortably at Wolverhampton on her last start.

“It is a step up into Listed company but she gets the trip well and I feel she is ready to have a crack at this.”

Roger Varian expects Horris Hill test to suit Dubai Poet

Dubai Poet bids to secure his second Newbury victory in the Virgin Bet Horris Hill Stakes.

A promising fourth on his racecourse debut in August, Roger Varian’s youngster was odds-on to open his account at the second time of asking the following month – and did so in some style.

The Lope De Vega colt then had to make do with minor honours when third behind Coroebus in Newmarket’s Autumn Stakes a fortnight ago, and his trainer is anticipating another bold showing on Saturday.

Varian said: “He ran well at Newmarket in the Autumn Stakes. He didn’t quite see out the stiff mile that day, and the return to seven furlongs on testing ground should be right up his street.

“It looks a strong renewal – as it ought to be – but he ought to run very well, I think.”

Dubai Poet’s rivals include the Charlie Appleby-trained Noble Truth, who drops down in class after finishing second in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at ParisLongchamp this month.

Appleby told “We were obviously delighted with Noble Truth’s performance in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, when he showed that he can cope with heavy ground.

“He looks the one to beat if he can bring that level of form to the table again.”

Light Infantry (David Simcock) and Cresta (Martyn Meade) also merit consideration in a competitive affair.

Siskany (left) winning the Old Rowley Cup at Newmarket
Siskany (left) winning the Old Rowley Cup at Newmarket (Tim Goode/PA)

Appleby is responsible for the likely favourite in the other Group Three on the card – the Virgin Bet St Simon Stakes.

Siskany has won four of his seven starts to date and certainly looks ready for a step up to Pattern level, judged on his clear-cut success in the Old Rowley Cup at Newmarket on his latest appearance.

“Siskany produced a very pleasing effort on his return from a break in the Old Rowley Cup, and heads into this in good shape,” Appleby added.

“He deserves to step up to this company now and won on soft at Sandown earlier in the season, so he ticks some nice boxes.”

Having struck gold in 2018, Morando bids for a second St Simon victory for Andrew Balding, while the William Haggas-trained Ilaraab also features.

Jumbly sets the standard in the Listed Galloping To Give 10 Years With A Transplant Stakes, after finishing fourth in the Rockfel when bidding to complete her hat-trick.

Roger Charlton’s filly may not have things all her own way, however, with Varian excited to see what his Newmarket maiden winner Miss Carol Ann can do at a higher level.

He said: “She’s a very nice filly, and we’re looking forward to running her again. We wish it wasn’t going to be on such testing ground, but I suppose it’s that time of the year.

“It will be very different conditions to what she won on at Newmarket. But I think she’s got a lot of quality, and we’re looking forward to getting her out again.”

‘Young pretender’ Yibir all set for Breeders’ Cup Turf

Yibir will head Charlie Appleby’s team for the Breeders’ Cup following his Jockey Club Derby success at Belmont.

The Longines Turf is the three-year-old’s target at Del Mar next month,  on the back of three victories in four starts since he was gelded.

Appleby believes that operation has been the making of the son of Dubawi.

“He was last seen in Belmont, winning on the back of his Great Voltigeur success. He’s a young pretender going out there,” the Godolphin trainer told Racing TV.

“Gelding was the making of him. We’ve always liked him, but he’s had his own mind-set towards the game. Gelding has most definitely helped him.

“He won the Bahrain Trophy at the July meeting, then he decided at Goodwood to take (jockey) William (Buick) on and go a bit quicker than he wanted to. Therefore we left the hood on in the Great Voltigeur and we saw him to good effect there – and he backed it up in a ‘win and you’re in’ slot at Belmont.

“I think we’ll keep the hood on. On his last start I was a bit concerned the hood might have knocked him to sleep a bit too much but he knows where the finishing line is and so he did it the right way round.”

Appleby has two potential contenders for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, in Albahr and Modern Games.

Modern Games is being targeted at the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf
Modern Games is being targeted at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (Mike Egerton/PA)

The Newmarket-based handler feels that pair fit the bill as two-year-olds with plenty of experience, with five races each under their belts.

“Modern Games won the Somerville Tattersalls (at Newmarket last month). He’s a horse we have earmarked to go for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile,” he said.

“We think he’d be suited round there. He’s got natural pace – quick ground will suit him, and he’s got enough experience as well. He ticks a few boxes there.

“One who will join him there is Albahr. He won a ‘win and you’re in’ at Woodbine. He reminds me of Line Of Duty. He might not be the best horse in the race – but he’s got an abundance of experience going into it, and I think he’ll love the hustle and bustle of it round there.

“You want those with a bit more experience and that have been beaten. You’d be a brave man to take an unbeaten colt over to America, because it can be a big learning curve for them out there. Those two have earned their stripes to augur well out there.

“Modern Games travels extremely well in his races, and Albahr will thrive on being knocked around on those turns.”

Creative Force powers to Champions Sprint success

Creative Force completed his progression from handicaps to the top level by taking the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot in the hands of William Buick.

Rated just 89 in April, the Charlie Appleby-trained colt has gone up 25lb in the ratings and picked good prizes such as the Group Three Jersey Strakes at the Royal meeting.

The Dubawi gelding had run with credit in both the July Cup and Haydock Sprint Cup without making the frame, but that experience in Group Ones was a positive – as was the stiff six furlongs on soft ground.

Last year’s winner Glen Shiel made the running and proved a tough nut to crack, but Creative Force (11-2) was up to the task.

Hitting the front in the final furlong, the Godolphin runner kept up the gallop to hold off Glen Shiel (22-1) by a length and give Buick his 151st winner of the season, two behind reigning champion Oisin Murphy with just four races left on the final day of the title race.

Minzaal (16-1) was a length back in third with Art Power (3-1 favourite) a head away in fourth.

Appleby, remarkably saddling his first Champions Day runner, said: “After Haydock, it was always the plan to come here. The two positives were the ground being what it is and secondly him sharpening up.

“After winning the Jersey here at the Royal meeting, we ran him in the July Cup and then backed him up at Goodwood. James (Doyle) said he over-raced at Goodwood and felt like a sprinter in a seven-furlong race.

“I thought we were going to run a big race at Haydock, but the ground was too fast for him.

“In these big sprints they’ve got to be able to travel and this horse travels for fun. William rode him with bags of confidence and having won over seven here, we knew he was going to hit the line hard.

“It’s a great team result. It’s been a great season and for this little horse to win a Group One is brilliant.

“He’s a typical Dubawi who should get better with age and I feel the sprinting division is quite open.

“With Starman retired, there’s a hole there to be filled and I feel this horse is potentially young enough to do that – we’ve been looking for a new star sprinter since Blue Point was retired, so hopefully this horse can be a fun horse for the next year or two.”

William Buick kept his title hopes alive with Creative Force
William Buick kept his title hopes alive with Creative Force (PA)

It was ultimately not to be for Buick in his absorbing tussle with Murphy, but he said of his winner: “He really did deserve it. Obviously he won the Jersey here and he goes through that ground, which is a big help.

“The race worked out perfectly today – we had a nice draw and I liked the look of it. It worked out how I wanted it to and he was in good form going into it.

“He certainly deserved it, but we thought it was a good chance for him to show his best today.

“There were a lot of runners, they all turned up but he travelled into it very smoothly and it was a case of just waiting with him a little bit.

“He stumbled out of the stalls and the ground was very fast at Haydock, but if you stumble out of the stalls in a six-furlong Group One then it’s game over but he did get himself back into it and he ran well, considering.”

Glen Shiel ran with huge credit, and his trainer Archie Watson said: “I’m delighted. He does come alive here. That’s his second Group One second here this year.

“The blinkers worked first time, they really lit him up. He jumped and travelled very well. Hollie (Doyle) was delighted with him. He quickened away and just found one very good horse of Charlie’s to beat him.

“He’s just a dream for the owners to have and a dream for us to have.”

Monday Musings: Newmarket Rejuvenation

I had intended writing copiously 24 hours after my first wholly enjoyable, nay rejuvenating, visit to Newmarket racecourse for two years about a brief conversation of which I was the sole observer, writes Tony Stafford. The conversants were those two genial giants of our sport, Charlie Appleby and Aidan O’Brien, but I will leave that until later.

It was in the evening during a catch-up scan through the Saturday results that I noted the 7.30 p.m. race at Chelmsford was called the Now Never Beaten By SP Handicap (Division 1).

I’ve noticed that race title before, marvelling that the object of so much ridicule and indeed suspicion in its Betfred-owned days between 2011 and 2019 had been apparently transformed upon its acquisition and operation by the group formerly known as Alizeti Capital but now UK Tote Group.

Their intention, I remembered reading, was exactly that - to ensure the Tote returns were never to be bettered by SP and to help grow its new version to be of financial benefit to the sport.

In its rubric, Tote Group UK says it is “now owned by a group of racehorse owners and breeders who are passionate about the sport, backed by people who own and train over 1,000 horses worldwide.

“We’re united by a shared desire to secure British racing’s finances for generations to come through a revitalised Tote”. Glowing contributions in that notice in support of UK Tote Group have come from Sir Anthony McCoy, John Gosden, Richard Thompson of Cheveley Park Stud, and the Racehorse Owners Association.

I scrutinised all 36 races run in the UK on Saturday and in 24 of them, including the 7.30 at Chelmsford, SP was better than the returned Tote price about the winner. Course and betting shop punters would not have benefited, but I am reassured that online Tote odds backers will have been, according to the publicity (admittedly confusing) blurb to the tune of a maximum £500 per bet. [The race title referred to, the online arm of the tote]

The three regular backers I know whom I thought might have been able to confirm this as correct all were unable to do so as they all three to coin a theme “had my account with the Tote closed years ago.” They all habitually try to get a few hundred quid on a horse. One big firm, asked for £500 each way on a horse the other day, offered to take £2.80 each way. Still theirs is a happy slogan and I wish anything that might correct the joke level of prize money in the lower reaches of the sport, a potential blessing. But as my three friends I’m sure would say: “Don’t hold your breath.”

I mentioned Charlie and Aidan’s very amicable chat earlier at Newmarket soon after the Darley Dewhurst Stakes victory of unbeaten Native Trail and the Irishman was glowing in his congratulations to his younger English counterpart.

Three wins on the day had already pushed Appleby past Andrew Balding at the top of the trainers’ championship standings for the first time and Aidan admired both Native Trail and the less exposed Coroebus, easy winner of the Group 2 Autumn Stakes.

Where Native Trail was a breeze-up buy for 210,000gns in the spring, able to make his debut in early July and now was making it a perfect four-for-four, there is no Godolphin blood in him, being by Oasis Dream out of an Observatory mare – Juddmonte all the way.

Coroebus meanwhile is Godolphin through and through: by Dubawi, their version of Coolmore’s great stallion Galileo, out of a mare by Galileo’s first superstar, the unbeaten Teofilo.

O’Brien remarked on both colts’ physicality, to which Appleby replied: “Coroebus is 540 kilos and Native Trail is 545, and that’s as heavy as Adayar who you know is a monster!”  Formidable for two-year-olds you would agree!

The wins brought Appleby some elbow room at the top of the table and with a dearth of major and valuable races to come save next Saturday’s Qatar Champions Day at Ascot and the Vertem Futurity (just over £100k)  at Doncaster the following weekend, opportunities are somewhat polarised.

Aidan told me he plans to run his top juvenile Luxembourg in the Vertem Futurity and expects that outstanding Camolot colt to go first in 2022 for the 2000 Guineas where he will almost certainly encounter Native Trail and Coroebus.

While Appleby has been inching his way up to and past Balding, who has had a season that must have surprised him with more than £4 million already in the satchel, he will be aware that John and Thady Gosden, who started slowly this year, are still in there pitching.

Balding has ten entries for Ascot, but only a couple, both 8-1 shots – Invite in the Fillies and Mares race, and Alcohol Free in the QE II – have better than outside chances. Appleby’s hopes from six entries centre, should he run, on Derby winner Adayar, about whom 3-1 is probably a little tight after his Arc exertions.

But the Gosden ten, with six in the closing Balmoral Handicap - Gosden senior dearly wants to win that race – include four serious darts at the biggest prizes of the day.

Mishriff, saved from the Arc in favour of the Champion Stakes, is 6-4 favourite for the £680k Champion. Palace Pier vies for favouritism with improving Baeed in the £623,000 to the winner QE II. Additionally, Free Wind is 7-2 for the £283,000 Fillies and Mares, and Stradivarius, should he renew hostilities with Trueshan, is second favourite behind that horse in the similarly-endowed Stayers’ race.

The Gosdens lurk around £500,000 behind Appleby and, unless such as Snowfall and maybe something else can edge out Mishriff, or The Revenant, back with a near miss at Longchamp, could possibly again unseat Palace Pier with Baeed’s help. Otherwise it seems a dominant position for a hat-trick for Clarehaven. It looks theirs to lose.

While that stealthy challenge in the trainers’ race has suddenly crystallised, the jockeys’ battle between incumbent Oisin Murphy and his nearest challenger William Buick has been a constant side-show most of this year.

It’s easy to portray this tussle as between Mr Naughty and Mr Squeaky Clean and certainly Oisin Murphy’s second failed breath test, which for the moment merely cost him one day’s riding at Newmarket on Friday, has done nothing for his reputation.

The jockey stressed that the alcohol reading while exceeding the permitted limit for being allowed to ride a racehorse was below that excluding him from driving a car. Great! Only slightly pissed then!

He dominated talk at Newmarket on Saturday, most people saying that for a repeat offence the case should get a proper investigation and the inside story at Newmarket on Saturday was that an inquiry will be held at the BHA today.

A one-day slap on the wrist, if that is all that happens for the offence, seems inappropriate to me. Suppose he hadn’t been tested, thus was free to ride on Friday and had caused danger to other jockeys and their horses. That puts the six-month ban (now ended) for promising apprentice Benoit de la Sayette when he was found in breach of the drug rules back in the spring in some context.

In the end, of course, Murphy was free to ride Buzz in the Cesarewitch and he gave the one-time Hughie Morrison horse a peach of a ride, one befitting of a champion, to make it a third win in the race for Nicky Henderson.

Buzz came to deny Burning Victory and William Buick in the dying strides, maintaining his margin over his rival to eight, when had the result been turned around it would have been only six. Charlie isn’t giving up on his jockey though and plans to run plenty of talented maidens between now and D Day on Saturday. Burning Victory of course was only Mullins’ second string but it would have been a nice result for readers of this column who may have noticed my frequent mentions of the mare in recent weeks.

So we had a seven-year-old winner who hadn’t raced on the Flat for two years beating a mare who had never previously run in a Flat race either in England or Ireland outclassing 30 other stayers. Burning Victory’s defeat and the no show of favourite M C Muldoon stopped a Willie Mullins four-timer in this contest.

Why are jumps trainers so good at winning on the Flat? We’ve known about these two for decades, but another younger member of their profession, an Irishman based in Gloucestershire, is showing similar tendencies.

Until 16-year-old daughter Fern attained that age in the summer, her father Fergal O’Brien was so disinterested in Flat racing that he had only winner from 50 runners in sporadic seasons from 2013 to 2019.

Fern, mentored by Fergal’s assistant and partner Sally Randell, a former star military race rider, won at the first time of asking a couple of days after her birthday and now stands on four wins from eight rides for her father as a lady amateur. His other 16 runners have yielded another four victories, including smart hurdler Gumball making all in a decent staying handicap at York on Saturday and Polish getting home first in a jump jockeys’ Flat race at Goodwood yesterday.

That makes it eight from 24 and a strike rate of 33%, a figure the Gosdens, Balding, William Haggas and the rest would kill for. And none of them has 55 jump winners since the end of April either!

  • TS   

Derby and King George hero Adayar will retain Champion Stakes option

Adayar could yet be part of Godolphin’s strong team for Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday, should he continue to give the right signs following his run in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Newmarket trainer Charlie Appleby feels he already has strong chances with Master Of The Seas in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and Creative Force in the Qipco British Champions Sprint – and has confirmed Adayar will be left in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Monday’s five-day confirmation stage.

The Epsom Derby hero found very testing ground against him when fourth in the ParisLongchamp showpiece, having missed his intended prep. It was his first start since winning the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July.

“He will be left in the Champion Stakes tomorrow, for the simple reason at the moment he has come out of the Arc well,” Appleby told Racing TV’s Luck On Sunday.

“Should connections ask me next week how the horse is, and I say ‘jumping around’ and they say ‘where can we go?’, I’d look a bit daft saying I’d taken him out of the Champion Stakes on the Monday.

“He will stay in tomorrow. We’ve an open book and should connections want to run him again and I can’t at that time give a negative for not to run him, then the Champion Stakes will be looked at.”

Appleby is keen on the prospects of Master Of The Seas, who had his first outing since just being touched off in the 2000 Guineas when third to Benbatl in the Joel Stakes, and on Creative Force. The Jersey Stakes winner has performer creditably in the both the July Cup and Haydock Sprint Cup.

“The way the weather forecast is potentially looking, Master Of The Seas will run in the QEII and Creative Force will head to the Champions Sprint. Two handy horses,” he said.

Master Of The Seas (far side) is on target for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes
Master Of The Seas (far side) is on target for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (David Dennis/Jockey Club)

“Creative Force is learning how to sprint now. We’ve seen what he can do over seven. He’s been competitive at six and he’s still learning. As we all know, dropping back into sprinting divisions at that level it takes a bit of getting the hang of, but he’s getting there and he’ll go into the weekend a big player.

“Master Of The Seas has definitely come on for that run in the Joel and we’re looking forward to him.”

Mishriff, runner-up to Adayar in the King George, is gunning for revenge after destroying the field in the Juddmonte International at York in August.

The John and Thady Gosden-trained colt was well-beaten in the Champion Stakes 12 months ago, but that race was on testing ground.

His jockey David Egan is expecting a much better performance with conditions looking to be more suitable.

“Mr Gosden explained last year he wasn’t comfortable on the ground, so you put a line through that, and the fact he went to Saudi from there – to (then) go and win the best race in the world (at York) was an example of how you can put a line through that,” he said.

“The way he ran at Ascot finishing behind the Derby winner, Adayar, giving him so much weight over a mile and a half I think it just stretched him. His run just petered out in the last 100 yards.

“Over a stiff mile and a quarter on turf I think that is his optimum trip. With the weather forecast looking good, it’s looking hopeful for next Saturday.”

Coroebus takes Appleby’s eye as Godolphin colts dominate Guineas market

There is no doubting who holds all the aces for next year’s 2000 Guineas – but Charlie Appleby feels the bookmakers may have it wrong in making Native Trail favourite over Coroebus.

Appleby, who has dominated this season with middle-distance colts Adayar and Hurricane Lane, appears to have a stranglehold on next year’s major races already.

Native Trail maintained his unbeaten record with a straightforward success in Newmarket’s Darley Dewhurst Stakes, his second Group One of a perfect season.

Coroebus justified odds-on favouritism in the Emirates Autumn Stakes, having gone for home too early last time out in the Royal Lodge.

On paper there is no doubt Native Trail holds the stronger claims, having won two Group Ones, but there is a real glint in Appleby’s eye when he talks about Coroebus. The pair were also part of a William Buick treble as he gives chase to Oisin Murphy, with a week of the jockey’s championship to go.

Paddy Power have Native Trail their 3-1 favourite for the Classic, with Coroebus next at 5-1.

“He’s naturally Guineas favourite,” said Appleby, after Native Trail’s win.

“I struggle to see him getting much further than a mile, but I can be proven wrong. He’ll go into the winter as an exciting Guineas horse, along with Coroebus as well – we’ve seen two nice colts in the last half-an-hour.

“For the whole team it’s great. This is Future Champions Day – it’s here for a reason, to find the champions for next year.

“I’d have a job to say what we are doing next month, never mind next spring, so we’ll get through the winter and then start making plans for both after we see how they develop. One could do better than the other and might need a trial; another might be more athletic and go straight to the Guineas. But it’s a long way off.”

Asked who he would have favourite, Appleby said: “William and I have differing views. I do like Coroebus – he’s a supreme traveller. But you cannot fault what this horse (Native Trail) has done – he’s four from four, and he does it in that fashion.

“As three-year-olds, when the opposition has got stronger and the pace of the race quicker, the one thing you have to do in these Classics is travel – and that is what Coroebus does in abundance.

“He’s got so much cruising speed, they’d never take him off the bridle before the two pole. But that’s just my opinion – I’m just delighted to have these two horses.”

The Dewhurst went pretty much to plan for Native Trail, although briefly Dubawi Legend looked like living right up to Hugo Palmer’s high opinion of him when going clear into the Dip.

“Given how this horse is, I was always comfortable because he wasn’t doing a stroke,” said Appleby.

“Once William moved out around James (Doyle, on Dubawi Legend) and they met the rising ground, the one thing this horse wasn’t going to do is stop galloping.

“He showed what he had in the National Stakes – the acceleration this horse shows is quite remarkable.”

Appleby last won the Dewhurst with Pinatubo, another unbeaten juvenile who never quite lived up to those heights at three, despite winning the Prix Jean Prat.

“This lad is different to Pinatubo. I’ve always felt this fellow is a man among boys – he has a bit more stature to him,” added Appleby.

“They are different animals, different pedigrees, but going into the winter you would potentially think this lad has a slightly better profile than Pinatubo – although that is obviously up for discussion and debate.

“People will undoubtedly have their own opinions, but that is mine.”

Native Trail stays unbeaten in Dewhurst Stakes

Native Trail underlined his Classic credentials by extending his unbeaten record in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.

Hugely impressive on his racecourse introduction at Sandown in June, Charlie Appleby’s colt had since edged a thrilling renewal of the Superlative Stakes on Newmarket’s July Course before successfully graduating to Group One level in the National Stakes at the Curragh.

The brilliant Pinatubo completed the National Stakes-Dewhurst double for Appleby, jockey William Buick and the Godolphin team two years ago to confirm his status as 2019’s champion juvenile – and Native Trail was the 5-6 favourite to follow suit on the Rowley Mile.

It was not entirely straightforward for the market leader, with Dubawi Legend proving why he is held in such high regard by trainer Hugo Palmer with a bold effort from the front.

Buick had to get to work with a couple of furlongs still to run – but once angled out to challenge Dubawi Legend, Native Trail picked up smartly and was ultimately well on top as he passed the post two lengths to the good.

Champagne Stakes winner Bayside Boy was just half a length further away in third.

Coral make Native Trail their 3-1 favourite (from 4-1) for next year’s 2000 Guineas, with his stablemate Coroebus – winner of the Autumn Stakes just half-an-hour earlier – next in the market at 5-1.

Appleby said of Native Trail: “When he was walking around the paddock I was getting more confident, because he was the standout.

“Today is a huge day, and we have two smart colts on our hands for next year’s Guineas. We’re fortunate to be going into the winter with two fantastic colts.

Charlie Appleby was delighted with Native Trail's Dewhurst success
Charlie Appleby was delighted with Native Trail’s Dewhurst success (Mike Egerton/PA)

“There’s a lot more to come, you’d like to say, but he (Native Trail) is unbeaten with two Group Ones. I’m not going to get too carried away.

“He’s a big boy, 540 kilos, and came in at that weight from the breeze-ups. Full credit to the team who purchased him, and Norman Williamson who consigned him. Since then, Norman has taken a keen interest.

“Norman said after the National Stakes he still didn’t know what he was doing – and he was correct, because his work at home wasn’t too exciting, but he warms into a race and does it the right way round.

“I was confident once William gave him the office he would pick up well.”

He added: “I don’t know if he’ll have a trial. We’ll try and split them up, but we’ll look forward to the spring.

“I’ve never put him anywhere near Coroebus at home – they are different types. Coroebus travels very well and has a smart turn of foot, whereas this horse does things in a different manner.”

Buick said: “It was a messy race, and we went a messy pace. Obviously we ended up on this rail for some reason, but I sort of half-expected that.

“I gave myself options the whole way through, and I knew ultimately that when I gave him a clear run he would pick up, and he did.”

When asked to compare Native Trail to Coroebus, he added: “It’s very hard – they are both very good. But one is a dual Group One winner, so at this stage, he’s ahead.

“We’ll see next year, but if they both develop it will be interesting.”