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Monday Musings: The Apples of Charlie’s Eye

I finally made it to Ascot on Saturday, my first visit to a racecourse since the last day of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, writes Tony Stafford. As I drove the last few miles the excitement was almost making me breathless and I was delighted that by waiting until there was an element of normality, my trip was just as I remembered all those wonderful big-race summer afternoons.

The best part, apart from seeing a great winner of a very good King George, was the thing that I, as a now very senior citizen, always regarded as my private, exclusive club. When you’ve been racing in a sort of professional role you get to know hundreds, probably into the thousands, of people in the same narrow environment.

When loads of them stop to ask, “How are you? Long time, no see!” and variations of those sentiments having been stuck mostly at home for 16 months, it is so energising. I always used to say, “Most people my age probably see half a dozen people a day if they are lucky. I go racing three or four days a week and see maybe an average of a hundred or more that I know.”

And Ascot on Saturday was as normal as it ever was. Bars, restaurants and boxes open and fully extended, the always beautifully attired Ascot crowds basking in the better than predicted weather and fast ground befitting the middle of summer.

One person who didn’t make it was the “You’ve been pinged!” trainer of the brilliant Adayar, Charlie Appleby, who had neglected to do what people increasingly have been doing, removing the app from their phones.

Not too many Derby winners have followed their Epsom success with victory in the same year’s King George. It was more commonplace in the first 50 years of the race’s existence after its inauguration in 1951. But in this century, until Saturday only Galileo, Adayar’s grandsire via Frankel, had managed the double.

Appleby therefore made it four mile and a half Group 1 wins since the beginning of June with his two Frankel colts, the home-bred Adayar and his stablemate Hurricane Lane, the Irish Derby and Grand Prix de Paris hero, bred by Philippa Cooper’s Normandie Stud.

Both horses won maidens in the last part of October, Hurricane Lane on debut and Adayar second time out. Both therefore were far less trumpeted at the beginning of this season when again Hurricane Run started with more precocity, indeed until he finished third to Adayar, the apparent third string at Epsom, he was unbeaten.

Adayar’s juvenile victory came in the Golden Horn Maiden at Nottingham, the race name being awarded to the great Derby winner the year after his Classic triumph. Previously it was known as the Oath Maiden Stakes in honour of the 1999 Derby hero owned by the Thoroughbred Corporation, who won the same maiden to get his career on the go the previous autumn.

I thought I would have a look at Charlie Appleby’s 2021 three-year-old complement courtesy of Horses in Training. Charlie had 70 horses of that age listed at the start of the season, 21 fillies and 49 male horses. Of the 21 fillies, eleven are by Dubawi, also the sire of 27 Appleby colts and geldings. Surprisingly, as many as 12 were already gelded at the start of the campaign and at least a couple more have subsequently experienced the unkindest cut.

Appleby had three colts by Dubawi as major candidates for the 2,000 Guineas: Meydan Classic winner Naval Crown, who beat Master Of The Seas that day; Master Of The Seas himself, who went on to win the Craven Stakes; and One Ruler, runner-up to Mac Swiney in the 2020 Vertem Futurity, also went to the Guineas. Master Of The Seas did best, losing out in a desperate thrust to the line with Poetic Flare and, while that Jim Bolger horse has gone on to run in both the Irish (close third to Mac Swiney) and French (easy winner) Guineas, and then dominated the St James’s Palace Stakes, we are yet to see Master Of The Seas again.

Another Dubawi colt to do well has been Yibir, winner of the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket’s July meeting, while the geldings Kemari (King Edward VII) and Creative Force (Jersey Stakes) both at Royal Ascot have been to the fore.

It is noticeable that several of the gelded group have been either difficult to train or simply very late developers.

Meanwhile, the five-strong team of Frankel sons have been nothing short of spectacular. It will be of great satisfaction for the organisation that Adayar is out of a Dubawi mare and not an especially talented one.

What of the other three? One, Magical Land, has been gelded. He won the latest of his seven races for Appleby and has an 80 rating. The others have not been sighted this year. Fabrizio, placed as a juvenile, is a non-winner but Dhahabi is an interesting horse I’d love to see reappearing.

At 3.1 million guineas this half-brother to Golden Horn carried plenty of expectations. He won on debut and, last time in the autumn, was third to One Ruler in a Group 3 at Newmarket. Just the five Frankels, then, and I bet Charlie wishes he had a few more. The list of juveniles shows 48 sons and daughters of Dubawi and 11 by Frankel.

For many years the ultra-loyal and ever agreeable Saeed Bin Suroor was the only and then the principal Godolphin trainer. His stable is now increasingly the junior partner with half of the 140-odd complement listed as four years of age or older, and many of these are probably more suited to the structure of racing in Dubai over the winter. Saeed has three Dubawi three-year-old colts and one filly this year, but none by Frankel. The juveniles listed reveal one by each stallion.

How ironic that in the year of Prince Khalid Abdullah’s death in January, the all-conquering owner of Juddmonte Farms never saw the crowning of Frankel, already the greatest racehorse certainly of the past half-century, as a Derby-producing sire.

He will surely progress again from this situation and, now with Galileo also recently deceased, is in position as the obvious inheritor of his sire’s pre-eminence.

The other younger contenders will take time to earn their prestige and it can only be good for racing that a horse that went unbeaten through 14 races has made such a statement at the top end of the sport.

To win his King George, Adayar had to see off the challenge from the tough Mishriff, stepping forward from his comeback third to St Mark’s Basilica in the Eclipse Stakes. His owner, Prince Abdulrahman Abdullah Faisal, was one of the people I’ve known for half a lifetime that greeted me on Saturday. Also, Adayar had to consign Love to her first defeat for 21 months. The concession of so much weight to a younger colt by an older mare – 8lb – is never easy, but her race didn’t go as expected either.

Her pacemaker Broome missed the break and then only gradually moved into the lead. In the straight Love looked poised and then Mishriff tightened her up on the outside as Ryan Moore was beginning to move her into a challenging position. Having to change course, as the Coolmore filly did halfway up the short Ascot straight, is never the recipe for success.

It is fair to say, though, that Adayar would have won whatever. It will be interesting to see how Appleby shuffles his pack. Someone suggested the St Leger. If you wanted to make Adayar a jumps stallion, that’s what you would do. He won’t go anywhere near Town Moor in September. With due deference to the fifth Classic, he will have much bigger fish to fry.

- TS

Monday Musings: The Middle Distance Ranks Are Massing

Until Wednesday evening in Paris it was all plain sailing for Aidan O’Brien, writes Tony Stafford. He could pick his Group 1 spots for the rest of the year with his team of Classic colts and more plentiful top fillies and wait to see what presumably ineffectual opposition Europe’s other major stables would be able to throw at them.

But then along came Hurricane Lane, only third to lesser-fancied stable-companion Adayar in the Derby at Epsom but subsequently a workmanlike winner in the face of a good late challenge by English-trained Lone Eagle (Martin Meade) in the Irish Derby at The Curragh.

Neither run could have prepared us for the Frankel colt’s storming performance on Bastille Day (14 July) as he ripped away the home team’s barricades <couldn’t help myself> beating the Prix du Jockey Club also-rans with possibly more ease than St Mark’s Basilica had managed a month earlier.

Die-hard traditionalists have already been put in their place in France. In the old days the Jockey Club was 2400 metres (12 furlongs) in line with Epsom and The Curragh and was reduced to its present distance of 2100 metres in 2005.

That move coincided with the moving up to a mile and a half of the great Fête Nationale celebration race on a movable feast of an evening card at Longchamp. The Grand Prix de Paris, until the arrival of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1920, had been the most prestigious and valuable race in France and was run over 3000 metres (15 furlongs), and even 3100 metres for a shorter intervening period.

In 1987, though, it was reduced significantly in distance to 2000 metres (1m2f) and it was at that trip that Saumarez won the 1990 race prior to his victory in the Arc that October. Previously trained to place in the Dee Stakes at Chester by Henry Cecil, Saumarez made Nicolas Clement, who had recently taken over the stable when his father Miguel died, the youngest-ever trainer to win France’s greatest race.

It works for France because, as Hurricane Lane showed so eloquently, a horse could run in and even win either or both the Epsom and Irish Derby, or indeed the Jockey Club, and there would still be time to prepare him for the Grand Prix.

That is just what Charlie Appleby did with such skill and the most notable element of it was how much he had in hand of the William Haggas colt Alenquer whose form with Adayer in the Sandown Classic Trial over ten furlongs in the spring appeared to give him a collateral edge on Hurricane Lane.

Alenquer not only beat Adayer on the Esher slopes but afterwards comfortably won the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot. But he was put in his place as Hurricane Lane stormed <that verb again!> six lengths clear of Wordsworth, first home of the O’Brien trio. It looked at first appraisal a major improvement on The Curragh but closer inspection reveals that Wordsworth had been beaten slightly further in his home Classic.

So where does that leave Adayer? Well, according to a conversation Charlie Appleby had with a friend who visited his luxurious stables in Newmarket before racing on Saturday, Adayer is fancied to run a very strong race as he faces up to last year’s O’Brien Classic superstar, Love, in Saturday’s King George.

The filly has the edge in the market after her comeback win over an inadequate ten furlongs in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot but Appleby, mindful that the weight-for-age scale favours three-year-olds, is by all accounts confident he will do so. Love concedes 8lb to the Derby hero while William Muir and Chris Grassick’s Coronation Cup hero Pyledriver gives him 11lb. Ascot is also the probable target for Lone Eagle.

Like O’Brien, Appleby is a modest man who often deflects praise to the people around him. Indeed as my friend left, Charlie said, “If you couldn’t train horses from here, where could you?”

Guesses that maybe St Mark’s Basilica might step up in distance on Saturday have been scuppered by his trainer’s single-mindedly pointing him towards the Juddmonte International. Those three days in York next month will also feature the next step towards the stars of Snowfall, following in the footprints of Love from a year ago by taking in the Yorkshire Oaks.

By the way, Jim, get my room ready! I’ll see how my first day back racing on Saturday at Ascot goes and then I might take the liberty of giving you a call. Where have I been? Too busy with all this Covid lark, mate, but I have been thinking of you!

However short a price Love was on what was to prove her last run of 2020 after the easy wins in the 1,000 Guineas and Oaks, the latter by nine lengths, 4-9 will be looking a gift if that is available about Snowfall. Could be 1-5!

Many felt the exaggerated superiority, indeed a UK Classic record-winning margin of 16 lengths, could in part be ascribed to the very testing ground at Epsom. Just as many were predicting that on faster ground in Saturday’s Irish Oaks she might go for economy.

Leading two furlongs out under Ryan Moore, delighted to be riding her for only the second time – he was on board for the shock Musidora win at York on May 12 three weeks before Epsom and that Frankie Dettori benefit – she drew away by eight-and-a-half lengths in majestic style.

As we know, the Coolmore boys like all the boxes ticked and the opportunities covered, but I can categorically tell you that they did not expect her to win at York. Even when she did, the beaten horses’ connections were dreaming up reasons why you could not trust the result.

After all she was rated only a modest 90 on the back of her juvenile exploits, the most memorable apart from winning a small maiden race was the mix up when she wore the wrong colour hat when well behind in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket last autumn.

After the Epsom and Curragh regal processions there is only one place you would consider for a soft-ground loving but equally comfortable on quicker turf three-year-old filly of her status - the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. It took me a while – having discarded my European Pattern Races 2021 book with hundreds of others in advance of a hoped-for downsizing move – to work out why she had not been one of the dozen O’Brien horses entered for the Arc.

Six older male horses – Mogul, Broome, Armory, Serpentine, Japan and Inisfree (where’s he been for 20 months?) – are supplemented by Love. The five three-year-olds are the colts St Mark’s Basilica, along with domestic Classic flops Bolshoi Ballet, High Definition and hard-working Van Gogh whose dance in four Classics (the UK and Irish Guineas, when third behind Mac Swiney, and French and Irish Derby) brought that one positive result.

That left room for one filly and, considering Santa Barbara took until last week to gain Grade 1 winning honours in the New York Oaks while four of her supposedly inferior female counterparts beat her to it, the evidence is there. They did indeed think she was far and away the best.

At least that was the case until 3.15 p.m. on the afternoon of May 12. The Arc closed at France Galop’s HQ around four-and-three-quarter hours earlier.  Now they have to wait until September 27 to get her in and pay a heavy penalty to do so.

In all, 101 horses made it. I am sure that date is writ large on the Racing Office wall and, if she enjoys another exhibition round back at the Yorkshire track she first consented to tell her trainer and owners how good she is, the supplementary entry will be made. Chances to win the race do not come along very often.

For all his and his owners’ successes in big races around Europe and in the US, the Arc has proved elusive. Two victories, with four-year-olds Dylan Thomas in 2007 and the brilliant filly Found five years ago, leave him still with a blank to fill. No Ballydoyle three-year-old has won the race since the days of Vincent O’Brien, who took the first of his two Arcs with Alleged in 1977. His second win, doubling up for Lester Piggott the year after followed Ballymoss in 1958, showed once again just how tough a race it is to win.

As mentioned, two O’Brien fillies are entered, Love and Santa Barbara. The latter might continue to make up for her earlier limitations in the Nassau Stakes next week but, as we know, a trio of Classic-winning alternatives, Joan Of Arc, Mother Earth and Empress Josephine, are equally qualified to step in and possibly pick up the Goodwood fillies’ Group 1.

Meanwhile Kevin Ryan has been exploiting the early juvenile Group contests in France with Atomic Force. Beaten first time out and gelded before a win in a small race at Hamilton, Ryan took him to Longchamp last month and he won Group 3 Prix du Bois nicely.

Returning yesterday for the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin, he started 2-1 on and bolted up. He will probably return for the Prix Morny at Deauville next month. Having watched that win the Sky Sports Racing team suggested the Nunthorpe might be an option given how much weight juveniles get from their elders. This year though that could be a hot race if newcomers on the Group 1 sprinting scene like Ed Walker’s Starman and Tim Easterby’s flying filly Winter Power turn up.

- TS

Hurricane Lane blows away Grand Prix de Paris rivals

Hurricane Lane backed up his Irish Derby victory with a majestic display to win the Grand Prix de Paris at ParisLongchamp.

The Charlie Appleby-trained colt may only have got up close home to deny Lone Eagle at the Curragh, but there was no doubting his superiority in the Group One on Bastille Day.

William Buick had Hurricane Lane in the perfect position from the start behind pacesetter The Mediterranean, one of three runners from Aidan O’Brien’s stable.

He led into the straight but Buick was always confident on Hurricane Lane and eased him into the lead a furlong and a half out.

The Frankel colt put the race to bed in a matter of strides and cruised clear to score with ease by six lengths.

Wordsworth, another O’Brien inmate, was second with Alenquer staying on well from the rear to grab third place, another length away. William Haggas’ King Edward VII Stakes victor could not get into a challenging position from his wide draw.

Hurricane Lane was cut to 8-1 from 12-1 for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe by Paddy Power and to 6-1 from 14-1 with Coral, who trimmed him to evens favourite from 5-2 for the St Leger.

Buick said: “I would like to start by thanking France Galop, who have worked with the British Horseracing Authority. Their collaboration has made sure that everything was in place so that I could come and ride the horse. On Monday weren’t even sure it would be possible. That was already a small victory.

“This horse is a superstar. He really had the perfect race today, unlike at the Curragh.

“The layout of the racecourse, the ground, the rhythm – everything was perfect for him. He has a good cruising speed and a strong acceleration. Even more so, he is a very relaxed horse in his head.

“Off the back of that, I think that the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe has to be a serious option for the autumn time.”

Hurricane Lane was a narrow winner over Lone Eagle in the Irish Derby
Hurricane Lane was a narrow winner over Lone Eagle in the Irish Derby (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

Hurricane Lane suffered his only defeat in six career outings when third to stablemate Adayar in the Derby at Epsom and Appleby believes he is one of the leading lights in this year’s Classic division.

He said: “He’s obviously been a very exciting horse to deal and he’s only been beaten once in his life and that was in the Derby when I felt inexperience caught us out. Today’s performance has franked him as one of the best three-year-olds in Europe and he’s an exciting horse.

“As we always do, we’ll allow the dust to settle but you would have to be thinking about him as a serious contender for the Arc.

“We’ll give him a bit of a break now because he’s run in an English Derby, and Irish Derby and then backed it up two and a half weeks later in a Grand Prix de Paris. He deserves to have a break, but whether he can give himself a break is another thing.

“He ran in the Grand Prix because he’d come out of the Irish Derby so well. He has a great constitution. He has a great mind and he shows his wellbeing in the morning.”

Olivier Peslier, who rode Wordsworth, felt the runner up could benefit from more of a staying trip in due course.

He said: “He has ran well, despite not taking me along early. I had to shake him along to get him to follow the winner, to make sure I didn’t get caught for toe. After that, he was very courageous and put in an excellent effort to finish second.

“He will be better suited by something a bit longer, like the St Leger. He needs a little time to get going but he is quite talented.”

Alenquer could finish only third
Alenquer could finish only third (Steven Paston/PA)

James Doyle was pleased with the way Alenquer finished, but admitted his high draw had taken its toll.

He said: “The draw wasn’t ideal. As we know it’s not easy historically from the wide draw at Longchamp over a mile and a half. I rode him to come home and he’s finished off very well.

“We were on the back foot a little bit and I had a little look up around 800 metres out and I thought we had a bit of a mountain to climb.

“If the pace had held up it would have given me a chance, but they did sort of steady at half way and made it very difficult for me to get into it. But I’m very proud of him, he’s run a solid race and he’s got the trip well.”

Hurricane Lane aiming to shine in Grand Prix de Paris

Charlie Appleby is confident Hurricane Lane will give a bold account in his bid to follow up his last-gasp Irish Derby triumph in the Grand Prix de Paris at ParisLongchamp on Wednesday.

Hurricane Lane got up in the shadow of the post to deny Lone Eagle and have his day in the sun after finishing third to stablemate Adayar in the Cazoo Derby at Epsom.

The Bastille Day feature was not originally on the agenda for the Frankel colt, but he took his run at the Curragh so well that the Newmarket trainer decided to supplement him after the Godolphin-owned colt pleased connections in a workout on Saturday.

“Hurricane Lane heads to Paris in good order. We expected him to need some time after what looked a hard race in the Irish Derby, but he surprised us with how well he came out of it,” Appleby told www.godolphin.com.

“He worked nicely over the weekend and we opted to take this route as there is plenty of time between now and the St Leger.

“This looks a good opportunity to hopefully win another Group One over a mile and a half and he looks the one to beat.”

The other British raider, the William Haggas-trained Alenquer, was also supplemented.

He beat Adayar in the bet365 Classic Trial at Sandown in April and then went on to land the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot on his only subsequent start.

“I was very pleased with him at Ascot. He ran a good race. I’m very happy with him,” said Haggas.

Alenquer (right) steps up to the top level for the first time in the Bastille Day feature
Alenquer (right) steps up to the top level for the first time in the Bastille Day feature (David Davies/PA)

James Doyle takes the ride as regular partner Tom Marquand is not allowed to as he has only had one coronavirus vaccination.

Doyle has not sat on Alenquer, but that does not worry Haggas.

“He doesn’t need to sit on him. He’s a good rider,” he said.

The third supplementary entry taking his chance is Northern Ruler, trained in Germany by Andreas Wohler.

Aidan O’Brien has Sir Lamorak, The Mediterranean and Wordsworth as the Irish trainer seeks to win the race for a fourth successive year and a sixth in all.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien has three runners as he attempts to win the Grand Prix de Paris for a sixth time
Trainer Aidan O’Brien has three runners as he attempts to win the Grand Prix de Paris for a sixth time (Nigel French/PA)

Of the home contingent, trainer Jean-Claude Rouget expects his two runners, Saiydabad and Cheshire Academy, to improve on their runs in the Prix du Jockey Club.

They finished fourth and fifth respectively behind the O’Brien-trained St Mark’s Basilica.

“Saiydabad had a good run in the Jockey Club, even if he does always take a little while to get going. It all opened up for him on the rail and he finished out the race very strongly.

“With Cheshire Academy, the draw went against him. We should not forget that he had a little niggle for a couple of days in the weeks leading up to the race and missed a gallop. With all those factors included, his fifth place finish was very good.

“I think that both horses are indifferent in terms of ground conditions, they will both be suited by the step up in trip. Both have had a good preparation leading into the race and I think they have very good chances.”

Hurricane Lane added to Grand Prix de Paris field

Irish Derby hero Hurricane Lane will bid to double his Group One tally in France next week after being supplemented for Wednesday’s Grand Prix de Paris.

Winner of the Dante Stakes at York, the Frankel colt was subsequently third behind stablemate Adayar in the Cazoo Derby at Epsom, before claiming Classic glory in the Irish equivalent – flying home at the Curragh to deny Lone Eagle in the shadows of the post.

Charlie Appleby suggested earlier this week that Hurricane Lane could head straight for the St Leger at Doncaster in September, but has decided to add him to the field for the ParisLongchamp feature on Bastille Day.

He said: “It obviously looked like the Irish Derby was a tough race and we half-expected him to lie down for three or four days afterwards, to be honest with you.

“However, he came out of the race really well, he’s not missed an oat since and has really shown his wellness since Monday of this week.

“We had a discussion collectively during the week and it was a case of either keeping him fresh for the Leger or heading to France – and we just felt waiting for Doncaster was going to be quite a long time to keep the lid on him.

“He worked this morning and William (Buick) was very happy with him. The Grand Prix de Paris is his last chance to run in a Group One over a mile and a half against three-year-olds so we thought we’d take the opportunity.

“Hopefully he’ll go there as the one to beat and if we can bag another Group One en route to the St Leger that would be great.”

Alenquer after winning at Royal Ascot
Alenquer after winning at Royal Ascot (Steven Paston/PA)

Hurricane Lane is set to be joined on the trip across the Channel by the William Haggas-trained Alenquer, who was also supplemented on Saturday morning.

The three-year-old beat Adayar in the Sandown Classic Trial in April and was last seen claiming top honours in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Aidan O’Brien has three contenders in King George V Stakes runner-up Sir Lamorak, Irish Derby third Wordsworth and King Edward fourth The Mediterranean.

Appleby plots big-race targets for his Derby heroes

Adayar and Hurricane Lane were both reported to be in top form as Charlie Appleby looks to future plans for his Derby-winning colts.

Adayar struck gold at Epsom, while his stablemate claimed the Irish equivalent – and could have the final Classic of the year at Doncaster as his next engagement.

For Adayar, it will be the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot next.

Appleby said: “Touch wood, all is well – they’re (both) in great form.

Charlie Appleby with the Derby trophy at Epsom
Charlie Appleby with the Derby trophy at Epsom (John Walton/PA)

“Adayar worked on Saturday and is building up towards the King George. He’s done very well for his break – he put a nice bit of condition on, so it’s time to start taking a bit back off again! I couldn’t be any happier with him.

“Hurricane Lane has come out of the Irish Derby very well. It looked a tough, hard race – and I thought he’d sleep for a few days afterwards, but he’s come out of the race bouncing.

“We’ll potentially go straight to the St Leger with him.”

Reflecting further, the Godolphin trainer said: “It’s been a great year.

Hurricane Lane edged Lone Eagle in a thrilling Irish Derby
Hurricane Lane edged Lone Eagle in a thrilling Irish Derby (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

“We were always confident with the three-year-olds. We didn’t have a Group One-winning two-year-old last year, but we always felt with the pedigrees that they’d come into their own as three-year-olds – and they’ve not let us down.

“To have two Derby winners with two different horses is very unusual for our stable. It’s great for the team, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and Godolphin.

“Like in any sport, when you have good players around you, it makes the yard tick away nicely.”

Monday Musings: Classic Connections

The weekend in Ireland produced another extremely disappointing performance from an Aiden O’Brien Derby favourite, writes Tony Stafford. If anything, High Definition’s sluggish display in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby was in merit terms inferior even to Bolshoi Ballet’s comprehensive defeat at Epsom.

The discovery of a cut to a hind leg immediately after that race gave connections a straw to cling to with Bolshoi Ballet, while on Saturday a stumble through clipping heels after two furlongs apparently unbalanced High Definition with jockey Ryan Moore apparently never able to get him back on an even keel thereafter.

The common denominator in a period when Irish horses have otherwise been wiping the floor with their English-trained counterparts over jumps and on the Flat has been the two Derby wins for Godolphin on horses trained by Charlie Appleby.  Adam Kirby was the unexpected hero in the Cazoo Derby at Epsom but William Buick, only third that day on first string Hurricane Lane, was again in the saddle as that horse put things right at The Curragh.

From the time when his father Walter used to bring him over from Norway, where he was born, while Scots-born Buick senior was the eight times champion jockey in Scandinavia, William always had the mark of a future top jockey.

He used to come along to Newbury racecourse, a tiny lad, and visit the press room where his proud dad brought him and, later on, his two younger brothers, Martin and Andrew. Even years later when he started riding aged 16 as a 7lb claiming apprentice from Andrew Balding’s stable he weighed just about 5st wet through.

Walter took on the job of trying to get him started and initially it proved difficult. Then one day he rode his first winner for Paul D’Arcy, a friend of Walter’s from their riding days before Walter moved to Scandinavia.

That made little difference to the flow of rides and one day Walter asked me whether I could talk to any trainers. William had been enrolled in the Newmarket Jockey School and apparently had made something of an enemy of one of the coaches who found him rather too ready to express his opinions, a tendency that years later cost him a doubling of a suspension when he accused French stewards of being corrupt, a comment he later wisely withdrew.

At the time I was very friendly with Vince Smith and we’d recently arranged for a couple of Raymond Tooth horses to go to him, with excellent results. Vince is no longer a trainer and after surgery for gender transformation, is now known as Victoria Smith.

Vince gave the boy his chance and in the last two months of 2006 he rode the three-year-old handicapper Vacation six times to two wins, two seconds and two thirds, the impetus of which helped get him going. By the end of the year he had clocked up ten wins. Vince continued training for only two more seasons and William rode seven winners from 40 mounts for him with another 13 finishing second or third.

But what I believe was a big step in the making of William was when, as a result of a recommendation by Michael Tabor, William spent the early part of 2007 in the US in the Florida winter base of top US trainer Todd Pletcher. That, rather than run through his claim in egg-and-spoon races on the all-weather, Buick senior agreed, was a better idea and more beneficial for his future.

On that trip, with his dad as chaperone, he was taken under his wing by the great Angel Cordero in his daily track work and returned to the UK a better rider and a much more rounded young man.

While voted the Apprentice of the Year in the Derby awards in both 2017 and 2018 by UK journalists, Buick was actually beaten as champion apprentice the first year by Greg Fairley who had been supported with all the ammunition available from the country’s now winning-most trainer Mark Johnston. Sadly within four years of having maintained a similar level, Fairley found the struggle to deal with maintaining an unnatural weight beyond him.

In 2008 Buick did gain his coveted Champion Apprentice title, although he had to share it with another Andrew Balding rider, geegeez-sponsored David Probert. Within a couple of years he was head-hunted by John Gosden and for four years, during which time he won a first Irish Derby on Jack Hobbs, the pair had spectacular success together.

But the final step on his graduation into the top sphere was being recruited in 2014 by Godolphin with all the winter benefit of winning such races as the Dubai World Cup and its extravagant rewards. That has projected Buick into the same elite jockey grouping as Frankie Dettori and Ryan Moore.

Moore has been the Coolmore number one throughout the same period, succeeding Joseph O’Brien, while Dettori, previously the long-term Godolphin number one, switched back to Gosden on Buick’s departure and duly extended his astonishing longevity with the UK’s top stable, most notably with his association with Enable.

William won the 2018 Derby for Godolphin on Masar and, while he could finish only third behind Adam Kirby, who rode lesser-fancied stablemate Adayar, on Hurricane Lane in the Blue Riband earlier this month, he remained loyal to his mount and was rewarded three weeks later with what was a second victory in the Irish Derby.

It required a top-class ride on Saturday as, going into the final furlong, Dettori, riding the Martin Meade-trained Lone Eagle, had poached a clear lead. With none of the home team looking up to making a challenge the two UK colts had the finish to themselves.

Between the Godolphin pair at Epsom was the Richard Hannon-trained and Amo Racing-owned Mojo Star, still a maiden but he was now strongly fancied to correct that status in this Classic. Unfortunately for connections, when Buick first launched his run down the outside of the field he instigated a touch of general bunching to his inside.

Mojo Star was the worst affected in the scrimmage so, while having no time to recover fully, he did well to finish fifth, just ahead of Irish 2,000 hero, Mac Swiney. Wordsworth, in third, was the best of the Ballydoyle runners but a full five lengths adrift of the first two.

So, with a Classic win, there was a little respite for the town of Newmarket, still shocked by the sudden resignation earlier that day of Matt Hancock from his post as Health Secretary and therefore the most constant face of the Government’s during the Covid-19 crisis of the past 15 months. Hancock is the Member of Parliament for the West Suffolk constituency which includes Newmarket.

The former minister was the subject of a leaked picture, probably taken from a phone camera, showing him snogging a woman that turned out to be his future live-in partner, an action contrary to Covid-19 regulations and a few other considerations too, I would imagine. The break-up of his marriage had been announced just before the departure.

I touch on this simply because he was, or rather is, a fan of horse racing and while the financial situation for owners remains as dire as it has been for many years because of the inadequate prize money levels, the sport certainly needs friends in high places. I don’t suppose he’ll be too much use from the back benches.

I digress. Whereas Adayar was a home-bred, Hurricane Lane, a son of Frankel, was bred by Philippa and Nicholas Cooper’s Normandie Stud in Sussex. I first met the Coopers in the spring of 1998 after Hitman, a decent horse I bought as a yearling and had in training with Henry Cecil along with Peter Mines and a few of his pals under the name of the Paper Boys, was beaten a neck by their horse I’m Proposin at Leicester.

We were all shocked, but Henry, despite Hitman’s having starting the 4-9 favourite after some exceptional homework, was not surprised. “A better horse still needs to be fit to win and Hitman needed the race. When it came to the crucial stage, I’m Proposin <an 8-1 shot that day and winner of his next two races for John Dunlop> was fit, so he won.” A lesson learned from the words of the master! Mainly jumping owners at the time, the Coopers graduated to the Flat before becoming highly-successful commercial breeders.

They reluctantly decided to sell their West Sussex farm in 2017 but continue breeding basing their mares at Coolmore and Newsells Park, the latter of which has changed hands in the past few weeks.  Gale Force, a daughter of Shirocco and, rarely for Philippa, not a home-bred, was sold in a partial dispersal of Normandie’s stock in December 2019 for 300,000gns. That was two months after her son, to be known as Hurricane Lane, went through the same Park Paddocks sale ring for 200,000gns.

Part of the reason for the Coopers’ sale was the tendency for all their retired racehorses to come back to the farm and then live to a great age. Now they are kept at Angmering Park, near Arundel, the home of the late Lady Anne Herries and former training base of William Knight, who moved to Newmarket early last year.

The Classic Year 2021 has thrown a few unexpected barbs at Coolmore with Santa Barbara’s defeats in the 1,000 Guineas and Oaks even though they still won both races. Mother Earth’s victory in the Newmarket race and more emphatically Snowfall’s record-breaking romp at Epsom obviously lessened the blow each time.

Yesterday Santa Barbara, with Aidan O’Brien splitting the difference in the ten-furlong Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes, feature race on the final day of the Derby meeting, went a long way towards restoring her reputation. Initially looking at best booked for third or fourth, she produced a flying finish between horses in the last half furlong under a left-hand drive by Moore and only narrowly failed to catch the more experienced four-year-old, Thundering Nights.

That filly, sent to Belmont Park for her previous run and an excellent second there in a mares’ Grade 2 for Joseph O’Brien, looked likely to win comfortably but Santa Barbara reduced the margin to a neck.

With four three-year-old fillies at Ballydoyle already Classic winners this year, the in-fighting for a place in the Nassau Stakes line-up will be intense but at least Santa Barbara must now be a contender. As Peeping Fawn showed back in 2007, there’s plenty of time to rebuild a reputation. She won four Group 1 races only starting at Goodwood that year.

- TS

Hurricane Lane denies Lone Eagle to grab Irish Derby crown

Hurricane Lane just got up in the closing stages to deny Lone Eagle as the British raiders dominated the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh.

Third at Epsom behind stablemate Adayar, Charlie Appleby made no secret of the fact he expected Hurricane Lane to come out on top that day.

Winner of the Dante Stakes at York prior to his big date at Epsom, Hurricane Lane met with his first defeat there but regained the winning thread under William Buick.

Frankie Dettori looked to have stolen the Classic on Martyn Meade’s Lone Eagle, shooting three lengths clear with two furlongs to run.

There was plenty of trouble in running for those in behind though, with Hurricane Lane seemingly edging right in the melee, but once straightened out he began to make ground relentlessly, eventually prevailing by a neck.

The pair pulled seven lengths clear of Wordsworth in third, with a stewards’ inquiry swiftly called but the placings remained unaltered. Buick was given a two-day suspension though.

“Fantastic – this means the world to me,” said Buick.

“I must give credit to Charlie Appleby and the team at Moulton Paddocks at home.

“This horse has done nothing but improve – and he improved since Epsom. We all know that’s not an easy thing to do.

“I’m in a very privileged position and I must say that I thought halfway through the race that we’d given up our position behind Frankie a little bit, and I thought he’d get first run.

“My horse quickened up really well and showed a lot of quality out there today.

“Once I switched him out wide, he managed to get some clear running room and he took off. I was just praying I’d get the leader in time.

“He’s a very, very good horse. We obviously fancied him at Epsom and today he’s improved again.

“It means the world to me but I have to give a massive thank you to the team at home and obviously His Highness Sheikh Mohammed as well. He puts so much into it. No one deserves it more than he does.

“This horse is a slow-learner, a bit like myself, but we’ll get there in the end!”

Charlie Appleby claimed a second Derby in 2021
Charlie Appleby claimed a second Derby in 2021 (Simon Cooper/PA)

Appleby felt Hurricane Lane had made significant strides after Epsom and had full confidence in his staying abilities.

He said: “I couldn’t have been any happier coming into the race. I felt that he gained experience at Epsom. He surprised me at Epsom as I thought he would travel better but inexperience showed around there.

“It was noticeable after Epsom how he’d grown up, his work was sharper. The only negative today was the ground tightening up over the last 24 hours and coming down the hill William came under the pump a bit.

“Once he met the rising ground again, I was confident that he would gallop all the way to the line.

“I thought that Frankie had stolen a march and he’d be a hard horse to peg back, but I knew our horse would keep galloping to the line.”

Adayar is due to contest the King George for Appleby
Adayar is due to contest the King George for Appleby (John Walton/PA)

With Adayar set to represent the team in next month’s King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot, Appleby will take his time in mapping out Hurricane Lane’s next target.

He added: “We have no immediate plans. Adayar is going to head to the King George and I’d say we will sit tight until the King George and see what unfolds there.”

The big disappointment of the race was the favourite, Aidan O’Brien’s High Definition, who was one of the first horses beaten.

Appleby looking to Hurricane Lane to secure Derby double

Epsom third Hurricane Lane will bid to complete a Derby double for trainer Charlie Appleby at the Curragh.

The Frankel colt was the best-fancied of three runners for the Moulton Paddocks maestro in the premier Classic at Epsom three weeks ago, having stretched his unbeaten record to three in the Dante Stakes at York, where he had High Definition in third.

Hurricane Lane was ultimately upstaged by his stablemate Adayar on the big day, but performed with plenty of credit to finish third – and Appleby is hoping he can provide Britain with a rare victory in Saturday’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

Appleby, who is yet to win an Irish Classic, told the Godolphin website: “We were pleased with Hurricane Lane’s effort at Epsom, and he has more experience under his belt going into this.

“He was an inexperienced horse going into the Derby, and it may have found him out slightly, but he has definitely sharpened up for the run.

“The style of the track at the Curragh should suit him better, and if he can repeat his Derby effort it will certainly make him very competitive.”

Hurricane Lane has just over three lengths to find with Richard Hannon’s 50-1 Epsom runner-up Mojo Star.

Hannon said: “He ran a super race at Epsom. It was a brave/stupid call, but it paid off – and here we are.

“It looks like he’s going to be a very good horse. I think High Definition is the one to beat, and then there’s the battle of the placed horses from Epsom, but High Definition looks a very good horse and a worthy favourite.

“I think our lad has a very good chance, and if he runs the same race as he did at Epsom he’ll go close to winning.

“The favourite (High Definition) looks a very decent horse. I’m not sure he’s taken on horses of this calibre yet, but he’s obviously doing great things at home and they like him a lot – there’s a lot of strength in depth.”

The other British raider is Lone Eagle, who will be ridden by Frankie Dettori.

The Cocked Hat Stakes winner missed Epsom because of a dirty scope, but is reported to be back on song by trainer Martyn Meade.

“We couldn’t be happier with him,” said the Manton handler.

“It’s not easy with all the travelling and everything. But he’s going in as a fresh horse, having missed Epsom, and we’ve got a good man on his back to run against the Irish – Frankie (Dettori) is the man for the job.

“What will be will be, but it would be nice to think if he runs up to his best he should have a really good chance.”

Earlswood on his way to winning at the Curragh
Earlswood on his way to winning at the Curragh (Brian Lawless/PA)

Johnny Murtagh, who won the Irish Derby four times during his illustrious riding career, relies on Earlswood to provide him with a first Classic success as a trainer.

Since making a winning debut for the yard at Navan in March, the former John Oxx inmate has finished third in the Dee Stakes at Chester and won the Gallinule Stakes at this venue last month.

Murtagh said: “We fancied him going to Navan first time, and he won a maiden over a mile in heavy ground, so I thought he might be a bit better than a maiden.

“I decided to go to Chester so he could learn a bit and we’d find out more. He ran well on the day, but got tapped for toe.

“We knew coming back from Chester we had a nice horse, and he won the Gallinule nicely on the day – which gave us a free ticket for the Irish Derby.

“He has a few pounds to find, but I’m hoping stepping up in trip will bring out more improvement in him.”

Hurricane Lane leads Appleby hopes of second Derby triumph

Charlie Appleby is spearheading the challenge to outdo big-race favourite Bolshoi Ballet as he sends three contenders in pursuit of Cazoo Derby glory.

While Aidan O’Brien relies on his sole heavyweight representative from six possibles for the Classic at the start of the week, Appleby’s Godolphin team numbers Hurricane Lane, One Ruler and Adayar at Epsom on Saturday.

They are among a clutch of worthy opponents to Ballydoyle’s Bolshoi Ballet – including Jim Bolger’s Irish 2,000 Guineas hero Mac Swiney, as well as the remainder of the Newmarket challenge, William Haggas’ Mohaafeth, Ed Dunlop’s John Leeper and Third Realm from Roger Varian’s yard.

Appleby’s unbeaten Dante Stakes winner Hurricane Lane is the choice of number one jockey William Buick, as the partnership bid for a second win in the blue riband after Masar in 2018. One Ruler, who was sixth in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket last month, will be ridden by James Doyle, with Adam Kirby on Adayar.

Appleby said: “One Ruler has solid Group One two-year-old form and is a Group Three winner at two as well in winning the Autumn Stakes, which is a great race to have coming into a three-year-old career.

“Hurricane Lane, on the other hand, had one run on bottomless ground at the back end of last year at Newmarket. He then came out and did what he did at Newbury before going to York. He comes here as an unexposed horse. He wouldn’t have the natural pace of One Ruler.

“As we saw in the Dante, his best work was in the last couple of hundred yards. Everything bodes well to step him up to a mile and a half – it might bring about further improvement.”

One Ruler is, of course, also trying the Derby trip for the first time.

Appleby added: “One Ruler is a different horse when he comes to the track – he just lights up more.

“James said, although it was quick in the Guineas, he rode like a horse that would appreciate stepping up in trip.

One Ruler is among Charlie Appleby's three Derby contenders
One Ruler is among Charlie Appleby’s three Derby contenders (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“The trip is a big question mark, (but) if he is going to get a mile and a half, he has got a good chance of getting it around Epsom.”

Bolger has always been confident Mac Swiney can run right up to his best form on good ground – but Friday’s unexpected rain has eased conditions considerably in any case.

A literal reading of Mac Swiney’s career record could indicate an aptitude for very testing conditions.

He got the better of stablemate and Newmarket Guineas winner Poetic Flare in a driving finish on soft to heavy ground at the Curragh last month, but must overturn Derrinstown Derby Trial form with Bolshoi Ballet.

He will be outdoing even his brilliant sire New Approach’s Classic achievements if he adds Epsom success to his Curragh victory – because he had to settle for second in both the English and Irish Guineas before winning the 2008 Derby for Bolger.

The Coolcullen trainer reports his colt ready to run up to his best, following his hard-fought victory two weeks ago, irrespective of the ground.

“You know how well he was a couple of weeks ago, and he came out of that race very well – and he’s been fine since,” he said.

“All his best form has not been on heavy ground.

“I wouldn’t like any firm in it (this weekend) – but then I don’t like firm for any of my horses.”

Bolger is unconcerned too by either the move up in trip or the unusual situation of a one-horse Ballydoyle team.

Mac Swiney was below his best on his last meeting with Bolshoi Ballet when beaten almost seven lengths on good ground.

“Not being right when he was beaten (behind Bolshoi Ballet) at Leopardstown, that’s all been very well-documented,” said Bolger.

“(The extra distance) is not a concern.

“I’m training my own horse, and I’m not concerned with how many any (other) trainer runs in the race.”

Victory for John Leeper would be a fairytale outcome for a horse regally-bred out of Dunlop and owner Cristina Patino’s 2010 Oaks heroine Snow Fairy, named after the trainer’s father and to be ridden by Frankie Dettori.

Dunlop said: “It is probably one of the more interesting stories of the race.

“Having a horse named after my father is very exciting, and it creates a little bit of pressure for everyone – but at the moment the horse has no idea there is any pressure on him, so hopefully we can enjoy it.

“Of course it is quite emotional as well, and it would be a great day if he could go on and win the Derby.”

He is hoping that inexperience will not catch out John Leeper after just three career starts, and two wins this term – including most recently in a slowly-run Listed race at Newmarket.

“There was a bit of a concern with Newmarket, because it was such a farcical race that he just latched a bit earlier than we would have liked to – and it was something we had never really seen,” Dunlop said.

“I think he did well to win at Newmarket. William (Buick) was very good. He kicked on and got on with it.

“That was all part of his learning curve. He hasn’t done much wrong so far – but there is still a long way to go, as they say.

“We always liked him last year. He had a tiny hiccup after Doncaster last year, which meant we weren’t able to run him again. He was a very big, immature horse – so he was never going to do much as a two-year-old.

“We like him, and he was bred to be liked. Many of the well-bred horses don’t turn out to be much cop, but hopefully this horse will. You hoped he could get to this stage.

“We would have been disappointed if he hadn’t won his maiden, and he has now won his Listed race, but he has now got to step up markedly to be competitive in the Derby.

“The trip should be up his street, because his mum won the Oaks – I’d be surprised if there was any problem with the trip.

Mohaafeth has been a revelation this spring, with three increasingly emphatic victories.

The rain will not have helped his cause, and it is possible his participation may depend on no further deterioration. But Haggas is not fazed at least that the Shadwell Estate-owned colt has a draw towards the inside.

“There’s not a lot I can do about the draw (stall four) – it is what it is,” he said.

“That’s for the jockey to work out.

“When we bought him as a yearling, he was our ‘Derby’ horse in big inverted commas. When he went to Lingfield in March (for a novice, first time out, after two defeats last year) I didn’t think he was our Derby horse.

Mohaafeth was a easy winner at Newmarket
Mohaafeth was an easy winner at Newmarket (John Walton/PA)

“But I thought he could be an Ascot horse, and it was really that effort in the Newmarket Stakes that appealed to everyone and brought him into focus.

“He’s got a chance of staying the trip. I’ve always felt it’s not a question of seeing it out, but more if they are going to improve.

“Whether he’s going to end up being better at a mile and a half than 10 furlongs, I’m not so sure, but there’s no better race to find out. We’re very keen to give it a go.

“He could be flattered or he could be improving quite quickly. There’s no greater race than the Derby – whether he’s up to it we’ll find out, but he was visually very impressive at Newmarket.

“The handicapper’s view was that it was impressive, and he stuffed him up 19lb. So we’ll see, but he needs to be 120 to win the Derby.”

Third Realm put in a notably professional performance to beat Adayar on only his third start in the Lingfield Derby Trial.

Varian said: “He’s not a big horse – he’s a small-to-medium colt. He’s very well balanced, he’s got gate speed and I’m quite confident he’s going to get the trip.

“We always liked him. He had a setback in May or June last year – otherwise he could have easily run at the back-end of the summer.

“We had to wait, and he only had the one start in November, but he did very well through the winter – he thrived in January, February and March.

“We had him earmarked for a Derby trial, and we’re obviously delighted with how he’s progressed over the last two months.”

Third Realm has the evident disadvantage of being drawn in stall two – but so too was Varian’s sole previous Derby runner, 2012 runner-up Kingston Hill.

“He’s versatile (tactically),” the trainer added, of Third Realm.

“He’s got gate speed, he can relax in behind horses and has shown a turn of foot. He’s pretty straightforward, and I think he’s the type of horse Andrea (Atzeni) could put anywhere – which is comforting, going into a race like this.

“The Derby is always a test of horses, because it comes early in the season, but I think he’s shown his worth – he deserves to be in the line-up.”

Gear Up must improve from his performance in the Dante Stakes
Gear Up must improve from his performance in the Dante Stakes (David Davies/PA)

Charlie Johnston, assistant trainer of Gear Up, retains faith too – despite an underwhelming return when only fifth in the Dante.

“It was not a bad run, but it was not a particularly good run – it was just OK,” he said.

“I thought he was in a reasonably good pitch, and I would have not swapped him three furlongs out. I thought of those chasing the leaders he looked the most likely at that point.

“The eventual first and second had another gear than him from two out, and he plugged on at one pace at the finish. He is sure to be better over an extra two furlongs.”

Andrew Balding’s Chester Vase winner Youth Spirit is bidding to go one better than the yard’s Khalifa Sat did when a 50-1 runner-up, in the same colours, 12 months ago.

The Kingsclere trainer said: “We always liked the horse, and it was a relief that he stayed the mile and a half at Chester well – because that was the one big question mark.

“He is one of the few in the field we know will get the trip, and that has got to be to his advantage in a very deep race that will take some winning.

“It would be lovely if we could go one better than last year – but the owner, trainer and jockey would be very satisfied with a podium finish.”

Dante success puts Hurricane Lane in Derby mix

Hurricane Lane burst into the picture for the Cazoo Derby when knuckling down gamely to win the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York.

Ridden by William Buick and trained by Charlie Appleby, the son of Frankel took control well inside the furlong to claim the Group Two honours.

It was a welcome boost for Godolphin and Appleby after several previous runners in the recognised Classic trials fell short of expectations.

Hurricane Lane (5-1) had to work hard to extend his 100 per cent record on his third career start.

High Definition was sent off the 13-8 favourite to strike for Aidan O’Brien. But it was the stable’s second string Roman Empire, ridden by Hollie Doyle, who looked like springing a surprise after opening up a long lead into the straight.

However, Roman Empire came back to the field, and the finish was fought out by Hurricane Lane and Megallan, trained by John and Thady Gosden.

Hurricane Lane ground out success by three-quarters of a length. High Definition was a further length and a quarter away in third, with Roman Empire fourth.

A son of Frankel, Hurricane Lane was cut to 6-1 from 12-1 for the Derby with Betfair and Paddy Power.

In the past 10 days Appleby had seen three of his potential Derby candidates beaten, with Wirko and Yibir fluffing their lines in the Chester Vase and Dee Stakes respectively and Adayar having to make do with the runner-up spot in the Lingfield Derby Trial.

The Moulton Paddocks handler was delighted to see Hurricane Lane step forward as a legitimate contender for the premier Classic.

Appleby said: “We were pleased with Adayar, who was probably beaten by a sharper horse at Lingfield, and then we had the boys at Chester.

“When you went through the bare form of the horses ahead of the trials, we felt this horse had the best form of the four of them.

“He obviously beat Maximal at Newbury and Maximal went and ran well at Chester (second in the Dee Stakes), so we were confident that Hurricane Lane was the right one to go to the Dante.

“He’s got a great temperament for a big horse and is a good mover. It was lovely ground and he’s jumped and travelled well and stayed well, so he ticks a lot of the boxes (for the Derby).

“I was a bit worried Hollie’s horse had got away from them, but once I saw he was stopping, I was confident our horse would keep galloping and that’s what he’s done.

“He’s proven he’s got stamina in abundance and the step up in trip at Epsom should suit him. I’ve been on the phone to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and he was pleased, so as long as the horse comes out of it fit and well, that (Epsom) is the obvious place to go.”

The trainer confirmed Hurricane Lane is likely to be joined at Epsom by stablemate One Ruler following his sixth-placed finish in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.

He added: “He’ll go straight for the Derby. He’s come out of the Guineas well and we toyed with whether to run him in the Dante, but it has always been Hurricane Lane’s plan, so we felt we’d go straight to Epsom with him.”

Buick said: “We all know the Dante is always a good trial and this year’s looked to have plenty of quality in it.

“I think what this horse has in his locker is that he will improve for a mile and a half, he will stay. Everything he does, he does it right, he went through the gears nicely and when he got company he battled back – he did that at Newbury, too.

Charlie Appleby has a major Derby contender in Hurricane Lane
Charlie Appleby has a major Derby contender in Hurricane Lane (Simon Cooper/PA)

“He’s gone from strength to strength, he’s improved with every run and has taken every run well, he’s got a real good mind. I can’t see much more you could ask of him.

“Obviously he’ll have to step up again, we all know that, but at least he’s got the experience now and he’ll get a mile and a half.

“It was a solid-run trial, a true-run race, unlike some of the trials it was an end-to-end gallop.

“He travels well and is well balanced, obviously he hasn’t been to Epsom but I’m not too worried about Epsom.”

Buick and Appleby combined for Derby glory in 2018 with Masar, and the rider added: “Masar was a top juvenile, won the Craven and was placed in the Guineas, we knew he’d get 10 furlongs – we weren’t sure about 12, but he got it very well.

“You never know about that race until the day.”

Of Megallan, Gosden senior said: “He came here on trial for the Prix du Jockey Club and if he’s in good order that’s where he’ll go as that is his trip. Megallan has a better turn of foot on quicker ground, so we’ll have to see what it’s like.

“I’ve always liked the winner, William was telling us on a flight back from Chester he thought he’d run well.

“I think the two best trials are the Derrinstown and the Dante, I think the winners are the two smart ones and Aidan also has two smart fillies.

“Uncle Bryn needs to grow up a bit, like all of us.”

Doyle was having her first ride for Ballydoyle and said: “He was doing everything so easy and they left me to it. I thought I’d ask him a question half a mile out and he responded.

“At the furlong pole I was thinking ‘where is everyone’. He’s run a huge race.”

Dante date for Hurricane Lane

Charlie Appleby’s unbeaten colt Hurricane Lane will put his Classic credentials on the line in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York.

Unbeaten in two outings, the son of Frankel comfortably got the better of a much more experienced rival at Newbury on just his second outing.

That display persuaded Appleby that it was worth stepping up in class with a colt – who was recently added to the Cazoo Derby field.

“The Dante is usually a very good trial for the Derby, and Hurricane Lane is worthy of having a crack at it,” said Appleby.

The Newmarket trainer has plenty of depth to his three-year-old squad this season. He is set to be doubly represented in the 2000 Guineas by Master Of The Seas and One Ruler, and supplied the second and third in the Sandown Classic Trial in Adayar and Yibir.

“On all evidence so far, Adayar is going to appreciate stepping up in trip, which could be in the Lingfield Derby Trial,” he told www.godolphin.com.

“But he doesn’t want the ground too quick, so he has the Dante at York as alternative.

“I was very pleased with Yibir’s seasonal debut. He is only going to get better when he gets to a mile and a half, which he will get in the Chester Vase, his next race.

“I also plan to send Wirko (Epsom’s Blue Riband Trial winner) to Chester for the Dee Stakes. It will be more good experience for him. The Epsom race was a ‘win and you’re in’ for the Derby — we already know he can handle the track.

La Barrosa, who chased home Master Of The Seas in the Craven, will head for the French Guineas.

Appleby added: “He has done well since the Craven, and it is best to put a line though his previous run in France in the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud (when fifth). He did not like the heavy ground.

“We are very encouraged by the signs so far and excited with what we have. We are always looking for the next three-year-old champion, and we are very happy the way this group are developing.”

Hurricane Lane stays in Derby contention at Newbury

Hurricane Lane further strengthened Charlie Appleby’s potential Classic hand with a gutsy success at Newbury on Friday.

Appleby has enjoyed a fruitful week with his three-year-old colts, with Highland Avenue and Secret Protector filling the first two places in Tuesday’s Feilden Stakes at Newmarket, before Master Of The Seas and La Barrosa fought out the finish of Thursday’s Craven Stakes at Headquarters.

Hurricane Lane was a winner over a mile on heavy ground on his only juvenile outing and William Buick clearly had no concerns about his stamina ahead of the Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup British EBF Conditions Stakes.

Sent off at 11-4, the son of Frankel was smartly away and Buick was happy to set the gallop, with favourite Maximal tracking his early move along with outsider Tasman Bay as the other four runners never really got competitive.

Maximal looked likely to forge on at one stage, but the winner found plenty without Buick having to be overly serious on him, edging a length in front at the line, with the Sir Mark Todd-trained Tasman Bay staying on well enough to be beaten two and a quarter lengths in third.

Hurricane Lane is now a general 25-1 chance for the Cazoo Derby at Epsom in June, and Appleby’s assistant, Alex Merriam, said: “Charlie was happy with the colt. He seemed to outstay them and it was only his second run. He’s a big physical specimen and we hope he will keep improving.

“We will take it steady away and see how our mile-and-a-quarter and mile-and-a-half horses run over the next few weeks. But he’s in the Derby.”

Mithras (16-5 favourite) was also shortened up for a possible Classic bid after winning the Dubai Duty Free Full Of Surprises Handicap to initiate a double for John and Thady Gosden, plus Frankie Dettori.

He is now a 20-1 shot for the Qipco 2000 Guineas on May 1 after prevailing by a neck over Saint Lawrence.

The Gosden-Dettori brace was completed by Gloria Mundi (4-1) who finished with a flourish to lift the second division of the Highclere Thoroughbred Racing Maiden Fillies’ Stakes in a three-way photo with Hollywood Lady and Sea Karats.

The same team had been denied in the first division when Darlectable You (5-6 favourite) was beaten a neck by Aristia (20-1) for Richard Hannon and Sean Levey.

Elysian Flame forwarded his claims for the Chester Cup with a surprise 25-1 victory in the Compton Beauchamp Estates Ltd Silver Bar Handicap.

The Gosdens’ Almighwar was sent off the 6-4 favourite, but Elysian Flame was incredibly game for trainer Mick Easterby and jockey Nathan Evans, clinging on to victory by a neck.

The winner is a best-priced 14-1 shot for the Roodee feature, while Almighwar is the 10-1 favourite.

Act Of Wisdom continues progression at Newmarket

Act Of Wisdom continued on an upward curve as he initiated a double for Charlie Appleby at Newmarket.

The Galileo colt – who is a full-brother to Appleby’s former Grade One winner Line Of Duty – made it a hat-trick of wins for the season with a tenacious success off top-weight in the British EBF Future Stayers Nursery Handicap.

Having looked booked for a place, the 100-30 shot followed up victories at Goodwood and Nottingham when picking up well late on to pass Rewired close to the line, going on to score by a nose.

Appleby said: “William (Buick) said every time I asked him he kept responding. James (Doyle), who had won on him on his previous two starts, said the same – that he is never going to win by far, you are always confident you are going to get there but it just looks hard work.

“He is one of those characters that doesn’t look the most willing of partners, but he goes out there and knows where the line is.

“He will be a nice horse next year. You could work back potentially from something like the Queen’s Vase.”

Royal Touch was sent off as if defeat was out of the question in the British EBF Future Stayers Novice Stakes, but the 8-15 chance was upstaged by his stablemate Hurricane Lane (3-1), who claimed the mile prize by two lengths to complete Appleby’s brace.

The Newmarket handler said: “He is a big, scopey horse. We’ve always liked him at home. He travelled well. As Adam (Kirby) said, they got a bit tired in front of him and he picked them up quite comfortably in the end. He is a nice horse to look forward to next year.”

Jim Boyle only has a small two-year-old team but he could have a potentially smart one among them in Entwine, judging by her four-and-a-quarter-length victory in the Watch And Bet At MansionBet Fillies’ Novice Median Auction Stakes.

Boyle said of the 4-1 winner: “She has shown us a good bit at home, but you are never quite sure of the opposition. We knew she would handle the ground as she handled it well at Salisbury.

“We’ve not got too many two-year-olds to compare her against so we were a little bit feeling in the dark. but we were hopeful she would improve.”

He added: “That was always going to be her last run. We will put her away now and she could easily be a black-type filly. She is a good-moving filly with plenty more to come, she has got a nice bit of scope about her.”

A step up to Listed company could beckon for the Mark Johnston-trained Freyja (11-2) who gained her second win of the campaign when taking the Best Odds Guaranteed At MansionBet Fillies’ Handicap by a length and three-quarters.

Assistant trainer Charlie Johnston said: “She is a tough little filly. She won in soft ground at Hamilton two starts back so at least she seemed to handle the conditions.

“We are very pleased – she has only had nine starts in her career, winning four of them. She is now probably nudging into a rating in the one hundreds.

“I would not rule out running in the Fleur De Lys at Lingfield next week. For her pedigree, black type is important.”