Appleby targets Newmarket prizes
Godolphin's trainer Charlie Appleby is set to make a strong challenge on the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes and the Dubai Fillies' Mile.
Charlie Appleby poses at Newmarket racecourse
The Newmarket handler is responsible for 13 of a combined initial entry of 134 horses for the two races which are the Group One highlights of Newmarket's Dubai Future Champions Festival.
The Dubai Dewhurst Stakes, run over seven furlongs of Newmarket's Rowley Mile Racecourse on Saturday, October 8, has attracted 85 entries while the furlong longer Dubai Fillies' Mile, run 24 hours earlier, has 49 engaged.
Both races are worth £500,000, making them Europe's richest Group 1 two-year-old events.
"We always like to finish off the season with our best juveniles at the Dubai Future Champions Festival," Appleby said.
"It's great experience of a course where they will hopefully be reappearing the following spring and if you are competitive at the Festival it lines you up perfectly for a Classic campaign."
The Dubai Dewhurst Stakes has been won by the following year's QIPCO 2000 Guineas hero twice in the last six years. All the ante post favourites for next year's 2000 Guineas are among the entries, including the top three in the market, the Aidan O'Brien-trained trio of Caravaggio, Churchill and War Decree.
Caravaggio is unbeaten in four career starts, including last Sunday's Group 1 Phoenix Stakes, while Churchill has landed both the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Group 3 Tyros Stakes and War Decree won last month's Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood.
Appleby's nine-strong team is led by War Decree's old rival, Boynton, plus the recent Group 2 Richmond Stakes runner-up, Blue Point. Boynton defeated War Decree in the Group 2 bet365 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket's Adnams July Course before suffering trouble-in-running when finishing third to the same opponent in the Vintage.
Other interesting potential Dubai Dewhurst runners for the Appleby yard are the promising maiden winners Timeless Flight andD'Bai.
"Blue Point has done well since Goodwood and we will take a look at next week's Gimcrack Stakes with him before deciding whether to step him up to seven furlongs," the trainer commented.
"Inexperience was probably what got him beat in the Richmond – he was rolling around and looking at the crowd while the winner [Mehmas] is a battle-hardened, proven performer.
"Blue Point has showed a lot of natural pace but we will learn a good deal more about him once we drop him in behind horses. Given a lead and a bigger field he will be a different horse.
"The Vintage Stakes was not suited to Boynton's run style – when he won the Superlative he went for home a long way out and was galloping on strongly at the line.
"The stiff seven furlongs of the Dubai Dewhurst should suit him nicely and in the longer term he will be suited by a step up to a mile.
"Timeless Flight has got to step up now and has got a bit to prove – it was always the plan to give him a break to freshen him up after his first two starts. He's had that now and we'll be looking to give him another run before stepping him up to something like the Dubai Dewhurst."
The Newmarket-based handler also has four candidates for the Dubai Fillies' Mile in the shape of Grecian Light, Kazimiera, Sobetsu and Wuheida.
Sobetsu is unraced but the other three have already shown a high level of ability. Grecian Light finished second in the Group 3 German-Thoroughbred.com Sweet Solera Stakes on the Adnams July Course last Saturday while both Kazimiera and Wuheida (a daughter of the 2009 Fillies' Mile winner, Hibaayeb) have won their solitary starts in maiden company.
Appleby said: "I was delighted with Wuheida's first start and she can only improve for a step up in trip and a bit of ease in the ground – it was quite fast when she won her maiden. She's got a bright future.
"Kazimiera won very nicely at Ascot and has a beautiful pedigree as a granddaughter of the Guineas winner, Kazzia. Grecian Light ran a lovely race in the Sweet Solera considering that she was caught out on a wing away from her main rivals before finishing strongly."
Their possible opposition is headed by the brilliant Group 3 Princess Margaret Stakes winner, Fair Eva, and two O'Brien-trained Group 3 scorers, Promise To Be True and Brave Anna.