There appears to be no stopping the forward momentum of Charlie Appleby and it will come as precious little surprise if the Godolphin trainer bags more purses at Meydan, Dubai on Thursday, 21 February.
At this time of year one can almost forget the Englishman’s feats of 2018, which included winning two of the world’s most famous races, the G1 Derby at Epsom (with Masar) and Australia’s G1 Melbourne Cup (with Cross Counter) at Flemington.
Current focus though is Dubai where Appleby, 43, was leading Carnival trainer last year and is currently enjoying another fantastic spell in this three-month jamboree in the grandiose setting of Meydan Racecourse.
The third event on Thursday’s six-race simulcast programme is the Zabeel Mile, a turf G2 in which the Appleby stable made five entries on Monday. The trainer has high hopes of Wootton, a first-time starter for the stable.
“He showed plenty for Henri-Alex Pantall in France last year and has thrived since coming to Dubai. This race has been on his agenda for some time,” he said
Appleby’s other potential Zabeel Mile contenders are Vintager, Bravo Zolo, Mythical Magic and First Contact. William Buick – who missed the first four meetings of the Carnival due to his suspension from Hong Kong – rode three winners for Appleby at Meydan last Thursday, and which of this talented bunch the stable jockey partners could of course be significant.
There’s not much doubt as to whom Buick will be aboard in the earlier UAE Oaks, a G3 over 1900m on the dirt. That is Appleby’s Divine Image who blew the start in last month’s UAE 1000 Guineas (1600m) and, despite a power-packed finish, could never get near French-trained outsider Silva who had stolen first run under a typically cunning ride from Oisin Murphy.
This daughter of Scat Daddy will need to be much sharper at the gates this time but Appleby said of Divine Image: “She’s a lovely filly who works well on the dirt at home. I’m very hopeful that the longer trip will be in her favour.”
Doug Watson is the master of Meydan’s dirt races, also being famously adept at having horses fully prepared for their major targets. The Dubai-based American has two entries in the UAE Oaks – lightly-raced pair Razeena and Habah – and if either of their names appears on the racecard they are sure to attract parade ring curiosity.
The other Group race on Thursday’s card is the G3 Dubai Millennium Stakes (2000m turf). Appleby is again strongly represented, as is fellow Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor. The latter is expected to run Racing History, a seven-year-old who bin Suroor hopes will advertise his claims for a possible crack at the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic (2410m) on Dubai World Cup night next month.