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Appleby hails Moulton Paddocks team as his Champion Trainer title caps stellar year for Godolphin

J A McGrath

Charlie Appleby was officially crowned Britain’s Champion Trainer for 2021 at a special presentation during the Horserace Writers and Photographers Association Derby awards lunch in London today (Monday, 6 December).

Appleby thanked His Highness Sheikh Mohammed for entrusting him with the role of Godolphin trainer and he praised his stable staff at Moulton Paddocks for their dedication and hard work locally and internationally during a long, eventful season.

Although the Flat season does not end until Friday, 31 December, Appleby is an unassailable lead, having sent out 113 winners at a 29% strike rate for prize money of £4.88 million, leaving him more than £570,000 ahead of his nearest rival Andrew Balding.

Appleby nominated Adayar’s triumph in the G1 Cazoo Derby at Epsom in June as the highlight of a stellar year that included major wins for the stable at the Dubai World Cup meeting, Royal Ascot, Arc weekend in Paris and the Breeders’ Cup meet at Del Mar.

“It has been the most incredible season, the most enjoyable year I have experienced as a trainer, and I think everybody at Moulton Paddocks feels the same. It has become something of a cliche to say it is a team effort…but, it really is, and that must be acknowledged.

“We are fortunate to have a wealth of experience and expertise in our team. I would like to particularly thank my assistant trainers Marie Murphy and Alex Merriam, as well as Hannah Pollard in the office, and Chris Connett, our travelling head lad, who has been all over the world with the Godolphin horses.

“But also our jockeys, work riders, head lads, the management team at Godolphin, the stud farms, plus the staff in the yard, whose tireless efforts have enabled the stable to take it to another level this year,” he added.

Appleby said Sheikh Mohammed had always been instrumental in the success enjoyed by Godolphin, but especially this year. “His backing and support on all levels gives me the confidence as trainer to make the calls that have to be made.

“But His Highness’s advice before the Derby was something for which we will forever be grateful. I was of the opinion, at the time, that Adayar would probably be a better horse later in the season and that the St Leger might be a more suitable target.

“We already had Hurricane Lane and One Ruler running, so I was thinking we could by-pass the Derby with Adayar and head to Royal Ascot. But Sheikh Mohammed said ‘Charlie, you need to stay to win a Derby…run him.’ The rest is history.”

Appleby cited Adayar as his personal choice as ‘Horse of the Year,’ though the Derby winner must have been hotly pressed by G1 St Leger hero and G1 Grand Prix de Paris winner Hurricane Lane, with the pair closely followed by Yibir, with his spectacular win in the Breeders’ Cup Turf still fresh in the memory.

Six of the seven headline horses for Moulton Paddocks will remain in training in 2022, with a series of G1 targets ahead of them. The one exception is Space Blues, the G1 Prix de La Foret winner, who as been retired to the Darley stallion roster in Ireland.

These are the six stars, who will be back carrying the famous Royal Blue silks again next year, with Appleby’s notes on their intended objectives:

ADAYAR: Epsom’s G1 Coronation Cup should be the perfect starting point for this course and distance winner, for whom the trainer has ambitious plans in 2022.

CREATIVE FORCE: Dubai World Cup night at Meydan is the launching pad for this progressive sprinter. The G1 Al Quoz in March is pencilled in to start a campaign that may also take in the G1 Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot in June en route to a busy second half of the year.

HURRICANE LANE: The G1 Prix de ‘Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in October is his main objective and his program will work back from that race. A suitable early mile-and-a-half target is the G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.

MODERN GAMES: This G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf winner will be trained for the Guineas in May. His progress will determine whether he tackles the English or French version of the Classic.

NATIVE TRAIL: A multiple G1-winning juvenile, who has the Newmarket’s G1 2,000 Guineas as his first major assignment. He may take on the G3 Craven Stakes as a prep race for the first Classic.

YIBIR: The G1 Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan in March is his initial target, but later in the year, there are plans to exploit his prowess on American tracks with a crack at the G1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga. The Breeders’ Cup must also be on the agenda again.