Author: Duane Fonseca

With just the one winner in ten runs so far at this year’s Dubai World Cup Carnival, it might appear as if the Godolphin handler Charlie Appleby has made a rather slow start to his annual winter campaign in Dubai. Much has come to be expected of Godolphin’s first ever Epsom Derby and Melbourne Cup winning trainer Appleby, but the Brit is happy with the way his runners have performed so far and believes the best is yet to come. “I was pleased with the runners in the first week. I’m just keen to see them running well,” Appleby said. “The third and fourth week of the carnival is when I would like to have them rolling out nicely, so just let them get the feel of it and enjoy the first weeks.” Good Fortune under James Doyle brought Appleby his first victor of the carnival this year when he finished winner of a 1400m conditions contest on turf last week by three-quarters of a length.

There will be a lot more to follow for Appleby, who has arrived with a posse of stars to compete in Dubai. Some like Epsom Derby winner Masar will merely winter here, but others like Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter, Blue Point, Loxley, Brundtland and Old Persian have been assigned specific targets. Cross Counter is being aimed at the stayers’ feature, the 3200m Group 1 Dubai Gold Cup on Dubai World Cup night on 30 March, and is expected to be joined by Brundtland in that race. Old Persian, who beat Cross Counter in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes at York last August, will first run in the Group 2 Dubai City of Gold and then in the 2410m Group 1 Sheema Classic on World Cup night, while Loxley will run in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta prior to the 1800m Group 1 Dubai Turf. Blue Point’s schedule puts him down for the Meydan Sprint ahead of the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint. “We have a nice carnival team and it’s just a matter of making sure we have the right horses running in the right races,” Appleby added.

“What we have kind of noticed from the last weeks and looking forward to in the coming weeks is that we will have a very competitive carnival again. “Saeed bin Suroor has his team in good form and the international horses are starting to come and we don’t come here expecting to have an easy run of it. “But there are some nice horses to work back with for World Cup night, with Blue Point, Old Persian and Loxley, but more importantly Europe is where our aim and focus is going to be again. “We have nice horses in Line Of Duty, Quorto and Ghaiyyath who are all well and wintering here and obviously like last season we have to go out there and be competitive in the Classics and Group Ones again. “It’s a long winter and the signs are all good.

They’ve travelled well and settled in well and we just need to have them physically do their best over the next few months; and hopefully when we head back to the UK this gives us a nice shot at all of the races that we want to be competitive in. “It’s a long season if you start with the carnival here and end with the Championship meeting in Britain, so it depends on what horses we field here and those kind of horses will hopefully campaign back in Europe during most of the season.” Appleby has high hopes from Cross Counter, who for now remains on course to head to Australia towards the end of the year to defend his Melbourne Cup crown. “Cross Counter came back from Melbourne stronger and brighter than ever and he has put on 25kg in body weight. He looks great.

After discussing his programme with HH Sheikh Mohammed, we put the Dubai Gold Cup as his starting point for 2019. We will see where that takes us,” Appleby said. “A defence of his Melbourne Cup crown is an obvious long range target, but we know he will be getting a lot more weight this time.” Among his prized fillies here, he has Poetic Charm who won the Listed Prix de la Cochere at Longchamp in September. Appleby said the 4yo daughter of Dubawi will head first for the 1600m Cape Verdi, with the 1800m Balanchine a later target at Meydan. “She’s a filly that has been training well and she’ll head for the Cape Verdi first; and whether or not she stretches for the Balanchine kind of trip, we’ll see, because she has an awful lot of pace. But we’re looking forward to her running this Thursday,” Appleby added. “She’s definitely training well and as we all know with these Dubawis, they’re improving well year after year.

And she’s coming out of her races in good order and I’ll be disappointed if she’s not a major player in the Cape Verdi.” Appleby’s first choice rider William Buick, who rode Masar in the Derby, is expected to be back in the saddle after serving out the six week suspension handed to him for reckless riding by stewards during the Hong Kong International Races in mid December. Appleby said the Norwegian-born rider is using the break to spend quality time with his new child. “He’s still enjoying the early bit of fatherhood for now and is back in the UK. His first meeting here could be 31 January,” Appleby said. “He still has a bit of his ban left, but he’s in good form and he’s itching to get back here.” That will be even more good news for Appleby.