Sam Price catches up with Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby after Dubai Future Champions Festival to find out what the future holds for some of his star two-year-olds
With leading fancies in the two feature races, Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby approached Dubai Future Champions Festival with confidence.
His twin hopes, Blue Point and Sobetsu, had shown enormous promise beforehand, but in the event they were unable to win strong runnings of the Dubai Fillies’ Mile and the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes respectively. However, Appleby has not lost any faith in his charges – and can’t wait to see what they can do on the track next year.
Blue Point had already earned his stripes with victory in the Gimcrack Stakes at York, but at Newmarket he tackled a new, seven-furlong trip – and didn’t quite see it out. After showing his customary speed the colt seemed booked for second, only to tire in the closing stages and be overtaken by Lancaster Bomber.
But Appleby was thrilled with the performance in third, which convinced the trainer to campaign Blue Point over sprint distances next year.
“I’m delighted,” said Appleby afterwards. “The horse lost nothing in defeat. We knew this was going to test his stamina to the max, and unfortunately in the last 100 yards the petrol ran out.
“At least we can go into the winter knowing what our job is, so that next year, we can aim for the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot. He’s built like a sprinter and he’s going to get stronger.
“Now, he’ll be going into winter quarters and he’ll have a nice break, which is well deserved. We feel that we’ve got a proper horse on our hands; an exciting horse.”
While Blue Point brought proven Group-race form to the table at Newmarket, Sobetsu was fancied to win on the striking impression she made when winning a lower-level maiden at the track. But the step-up in class proved too much in the Dubai Fillies’ Mile, and she faded into fifth – not that Appleby is prepared to give up on her just yet.
“I’m not going to get away from Sobetsu,” said the trainer, who still holds Classic aspirations for his filly and suggested she could run again this season. “We held her in high regard and we still do hold her in high regard. She was beaten in the Fillies’ Mile, but she wouldn’t be the first filly to be beaten and go on to win a Classic. I’d like to see her back on the racecourse with some ease in the ground.”
A return to form for Sobetsu would give Appleby another string to his bow for next year’s top fillies’ races, with Wuheida having marked herself out as a potential superstar with victory in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac at Chantilly five days earlier.
“Wuheida is the best filly we have in the yard for the simple reason that she’s unbeaten,” he added. “Going from a maiden into Group 1 class and doing what she did takes a good filly.”
The challenge now for the trainer is harnessing the abundant potential that his two-year-olds have shown, and making sure they improve ahead of their defining three-year-old campaigns. Does the process differ from colts to fillies?
“It depends on the individual and the state of their mind,” says Appleby. “Blue Point has a very good mind; he wants to do it, as he’s shown in all of his starts. And that makes a huge difference, like it does with any athlete. If they want to have a go at it then it makes them a lot easier to train.”
While the aforementioned horses will be campaigning towards big targets in the spring and summer in Britain, Appleby will also be readying a team for the Dubai World Cup carnival early next year – and outlined some horses he is aiming at Meydan, including one promising juvenile.
“I’m going to take Boynton over,” he said. “He’s a colt who should appreciate the sound surface in Dubai and I’m going to campaign him towards the Guineas. He’s an exciting horse.
“We’ll also have a few of the old-timers back there,” he added. “Safety Check will go out to Dubai again, and Latharnach will hopefully travel as well. He won nicely on his first start after a long lay-off. It will be a small but select team and I’m looking forward to it.”
The 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival will run from 5 January to 25 March