Charlie Appleby becomes first trainer to saddle winners of the French, English and Irish 2000 Guineas in the same season

“As calm and collected as you always try to be before the races, I knew what we were trying to achieve, firstly on trying to win a Guineas but also, dare I say it, on trying to make history,” admitted Appleby.
Charlie Appleby becomes first trainer to saddle winners of the French, English and Irish 2000 Guineas in the same season

Trainer Charlie Appleby celebrates after winning the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh

CHARLIE Appleby spent 15 years making his way through the Godolphin ranks before being appointed a trainer for Sheikh Mohammed’s operation and since that step up, in 2013, he has climbed to the top of the training tree.

Saturday’s success for Native Trail in the Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas was further evidence of the talents of the genial Englishman, who wrote a little history by becoming the first trainer to saddle the winners of the French, English and Irish 2000 Guineas in the same season, having won the Newmarket race with Coroebus the Longchamp equivalent with Modern Games.

This victory highlights the depth of talent which the Appleby yard has nurtured, and further strengthens the position of the Godolphin operation which, for many years, struggled to compete with the Coolmore powerhouse.

Native Trail may have come up against one too good in Newmarket but that form and that which he produced when trouncing Point Lonsdale in the National Stakes at this track in 2021 – Appleby’s third win in the last four runnings of that particular Group 1 - stood out against these rivals and he was sent off a long odds-on favourite to gain compensation.

The son of Oasis Dream went from a €50,000 foal to a 67,000 guineas yearling to a 210,000 guineas two-year-old, and that graduation in price has clearly been reflected in an impressive physical development which has given us an imposing colt of Classic standard.

So big was he as a foal, in fact, his breeder, in an interview with the Racing Post in August 2021, joked following the sale of his Kingman half-sister for €950,000: “With her brother, he was already very big, which is why we sold him as a foal – we were worried that later on he would be the size of a hunter!” 

Big clearly does not always mean slow nor cumbersome, for he was a leading two-year-old and has built on that. Today’s race may not have gone entirely to plan, but got the job done – and, I would argue, in better style than he was initially being given credit for.

He didn’t manage to get himself into the ideal position from stalls, but he had the ability to travel up behind the leaders in the straight before making his way out to deliver a challenge. When jockey William Buick asked for first effort, the response wasn’t explosive, but he produced a sustained effort which carried him to the front just outside the furlong marker.

New Energy looked a serious threat when delivered with a run from off the pace, as did Imperial Fighter, but Native Trail was striding as well at the line as at any point of the race, and he was much more authoritative than the winning margin of a length and three quarters might suggest.

THANKS BIG FELLA: William Buick kisses Native Trail after winning the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at The Curragh. 
THANKS BIG FELLA: William Buick kisses Native Trail after winning the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at The Curragh. 

New Energy brought his form to a new level with a tremendous run for Sheila Lavery, while Imperial Fighter was the subject of plenty of each-way interest and rewarded his connections and supporters with a third-place finish.

They were terrific efforts, but Native Trail was the best on the day, much to the relief of the winning trainer.

“As calm and collected as you always try to be before the races, I knew what we were trying to achieve, firstly on trying to win a Guineas but also, dare I say it, on trying to make history,” admitted Appleby.

“And that’s what this horse has done for the whole team, and the team have done themselves. There was more pressure than sometimes I’m used to, in a fashion.

“I’m delighted for the whole team, delighted for Godolphin, delighted for Sheikh Mohammed to do what’s been done over the last sort of month is a huge achievement.

“It’s the first time it’s ever been done with three different colts in the three Guineas, and it’s a huge achievement for everybody and I’m delighted to be part of it.” 

Reflecting on this performance, the third Group 1 of this horse’s career, Appleby added: I’m confident in William and the horse. William knows him so well, he’s rode him all his racing career, and he’s rode him plenty at home, so he knows what this horse has been doing.

“I said to William that the thought process before the race was to try and get out and get the box seat, but once it wasn’t there, I could see what William was doing, and so I was never (worried).

“It was one of those nice races to watch again, and I knew once he angled him out, and once he gave him the office and told him it was time to go to work, there’s one thing this horse won’t do: he won’t fold. You ask him, and he’ll give it to you, and he’s done it in spades in the end.”

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