Appointed by Godolphin as replacement for the disgraced Mahmoud Al Zarooni in July last year, Charlie Appleby is, understandably, looking forward to his first Dubai World Cup meeting as a trainer.
Appleby has been an integral part of the Godolphin team for more than 15 years, initially working for trainer David Loder with the legendary Dubai Millennium, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s favourite horse.
Vancouverite and Cat O’Mountain will represent the trainer in Saturday’s World Cup, with Appleby saddling six runners in total across the evening.
Vancouverite finished an excellent second in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta on Super Saturday on his first start for the yard.
Appleby said: “That was an excellent first run for us and he has come out of the race very well. That was over 1,800m and the extra 200m will suit him as all his wins have been at 2,000m.
“It will be his first race on a synthetic surface but that should not be an issue and hopefully he will run a big race.”
Having cut his teeth under Loder, Appleby switched to work for Saeed bin Suroor in 2002, travelling horses worldwide, including Crimson Palace, winner of the Grade 1 Beverly D Stakes at Arlington Park in 2004.
Crimson Palace had arrived in Dubai in 2004, winning on debut for South African Mike De Kock at Nad Al Sheba before being purchased by Godolphin for who she was fourth in the Dubai Duty Free.
Working through the ranks, he progressed to become an assistant head lad, then yard manager and a Dubai-based assistant trainer role,with responsibility for the Carnival horses.
After two successful Dubai winters in that role, he was appointed one of the head lads at Moulton Paddocks before becoming assistant to Al Zarooni.
He wasted little time training his first winner, Expressly, three days after he was granted his licence.
He finished 2013 with an impressive 62 winners, highlighted by the victory of Outstrip in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita.
Appleby said: “We made a great start and to get a Grade I winner so soon was brilliant but I am so lucky to be given this opportunity to train so many really nice horses with a great team behind me.
“Obviously I am very grateful to Sheikh Mohammed for such a wonderful opportunity and we are all really looking forward to World Cup night where we have some nice runners.”
His six Dubai World Cup Carnival winners were highlighted by the impressive Long John, easy winner of the UAE 2000 Guineas and sure to be among the favourites in the UAE Derby on Saturday.
Appleby made a dream start to his first Dubai World Cup Carnival when his first runner, Ahtoug, won a 1,000m turf handicap at the first meeting.
One of six 2014 Carnival winners for the trainer, Ahtoug was an excellent second on Super Saturday and takes his chance in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint.
Appleby said: “He has been so consistent and does not know how to run a bad race – his worst run was when he was, basically, beaten by the draw.
“If you had told me when he won on the first night of the Carnival he would run on the big night I would have certainly have accepted that!”
Al Zarooni’s first ever runner was Calming Influence, winner of the 2010 Godolphin Mile, Appleby will also be hoping for a big night winner at the first attempt.
With a full racecard that includes the Sheema Classic, Dubai Duty Free and UAE Derby races, and a total prize pot of nearly AED103m, there is plenty riding on every outing at Meydan, so we've profiled the five horses we think will make a difference outside the premier World Cup event.
Shea Shea – Al Quoz Sprint
Probably most people’s idea of the banker on the card, seeking to win the race for a second year running, he was impressive on Super Saturday and will be hard to beat. Holds the track record and should again have his optimum conditions on Saturday.
Giovanni Boldini – UAE Derby
Seeking to give his trainer a third consecutive winner in the race, he was a Listed winner in Ireland last year but produced better efforts in defeat – when third in the Group 1 National Stakes but more so when second at the Breeders’ Cup meeting.
Rich Tapestry – Golden Shaheen
The Hong Kong challenger has been an absolute revelation since switching to all-weather surfaces and could not have been more impressive winning on Super Saturday, comfortably accounting for last year’s Golden Shaheen winner, Reynaldothewizard.
The Fugue – Dubai Duty Free
Represents the same connections and 2010 Sheema Classic winner Dar Re Mi and she had been second favourite for the Dubai World Cup before connections switched her to this turf feature. Three-times a Group 1 winner already and a major player on Saturday.
Gentildonna – Dubai Sheema Classic
Second in the race last year, behind the 2012 runner-up St Nicholas Abbey, this Japanese equine heroine should make a bold fist to go one better in what looks to be the strongest race of the night and living up to its $5 million (Dh18.6m) purse.
Ahead of this weekend's Dubai World Cup race at Meydan, we profile the 16 horses that will be in the running for horse racing's most valuable race.
Firstly, here's how Animal Kingdom ran out victorius last year…
African Story (GB)
Trainer: Saeed Bin Suroor
Akeed Mofeed (GB)
Trainer: Richard Gibson
Jockey: Douglas Whyte
Has to be respected but needs to prove he is as good on Tapeta as on the turf.
Trainer: Kunihide Matsuda
Jockey: Christophe Lemaire
Japan won in 2011 and is capable of a bold show if getting a good draw.
Cat O'Mountain (USA)
Trainer: Charlie Appleby
Jockey: Mickael Barzalona
Received a late invitation to the delight of his trainer but faces a major step up in class.
Hillstar (GB) (above right)
Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute
Jockey: Ryan Moore
Sir Stoute saddled Singspiel to win this in 1997 which remains the only UK-trained victory thus far. Would appeal more over further on turf.
Hokko Tarumae (JPN)
Trainer: Katsuichi Nishiura
Jockey: Hideaki Miyuki
Another Japanese entrant and one who looks certain to relish the Tapeta surface. An interesting each-way contender.
Military Attack (IRE)
Trainer: John Moore
Jockey: Joao Moreira
Looks Hong Kong’s main hope having finished well in front of Akeed Mofeed last time. Currently second favourite.
Trainer: William Haggas
Jockey: Paul Hanagan
A Group 2 winner in England last summer, his best efforts were in defeat in Group 1 company. Often makes the running so a low draw would suit.
Prince Bishop (IRE) (above)
Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor
Jockey: Kieren Fallon
Running in this race for a third time and a fourth World Cup night appearance. Arrives in great form having won on Super Saturday.
Ron the Greek (USA)
Trainer: Nicholas Bachalard
Jockey: Jose Lezcano
A Grade 1 winner in his native America in each of the last two years and has made a wining start to his new career in Saudi Arabia.
Ruler of the World (IRE)
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien
Jockey: Joseph O’Brien
Last year’s Epsom Derby winner and warm favourite. Has a lot in his favour if adapting to the surface.
Red Cadeaux (GB) (above)
Trainer: Ed Dunlop
Jockey: Gerald Mosse
Surprised many when he finished second last year over a trip considered on the sharp side. Has not won since December 2012.
Trainer: Mike de Kock
Jockey: Christophe Soumillon
Has improved with each of his four Carnival runs thus far, including a course and distance handicap victory. Should go well.
Side Glance (GB)
Trainer: Andrew Balding
Jockey: Jamie Spencer
Fourth last year after running Super Saturday on turf. Recorded first Group 1 win in November.
Trainer: Satish Seemar
Jockey: Richard Mullen
Was an excellent third to Prince Bishop and Sanshaawes on Super Saturday. Disappointed in last year’s Godolphin Mile but consistent otherwise.
Trainer: Charlie Appleby
Jockey: William Buick
A surprise runner given his excellent turf performance on Super Saturday and Barzalona choosing Cat O’Mountain.