All roads will lead to a shot at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for last year’s Investec Derby hero Masar when he returns from injury, according to trainer Charlie Appleby.
The four-year-old son of New Approach has been sidelined since meeting with a setback after his victory in the Epsom Classic last June, during his build up to a planned tilt at the Eclipse at Sandown.
An outing in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot has been mentioned as a possible starting point for Masar, but his Newmarket trainer warns he will not be rushing him back for the sake of lining up in the Group Two prize.
Appleby said: “I mentioned the Hardwicke at Ascot as a potential comeback, because that is the most obvious race for him. That is what we would like to do – and at the moment timing-wise, it looks potentially achievable.
“At the end of the day the biggest disappointment last year was missing the Eclipse and the second half of the season with him, and an outing in the Arc.
“If we didn’t make Royal Ascot it wouldn’t be the be all and end all, because the Arc is my main aim – and that is what we are working back from.
“If we are ready enough for Royal Ascot then for sure we will be there – but if we don’t think it is right then we won’t go.”
Having sent Masar over to Dubai for the winter to help him recover from his injury, Appleby is pleased with the progress he has seen.
He said: “He has pleased us week on week in Dubai. He is cantering away now on the treadmill and we can control his pace on there and what we want him to do.
“We’ve still got a bit to go yet before we start to press any buttons.
“Until you get to a certain level of fitness, you don’t know how that injury is going to stand up – but at the minute all the signs are very positive.”
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Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby has earmarked the Paradise Stakes at Ascot as the most likely target for impressive Lincoln winner Auxerre.
The Newmarket handler feels the mile Listed contest on May 1 is the ideal stepping stone for the lightly-raced son of Iffraaj, as opposed to pitching him into Pattern-race company.
Victory for the four-year-old on Town Moor last month was a fourth career win in just five starts, with the sole defeat coming on debut at Newmarket in June.
Appleby said: “He has progressed very well through the winter. We were confident the Lincoln was the right race for him, as he was off the right mark.
“We are not going to get too carried away – there were some comments about the Queen Anne and the Group Two at Sandown, but I’m not going be punching up there yet.
“We went up to a mark off 107 and that is still a long way off being a Group One or Two horse.
“The plan with him is hopefully head to Ascot for a Listed race there in early May, and then try to work our way through the ranks.”
Having enjoyed plenty of success in Australia last year, highlighted by the victory of Cross Counter in the Melbourne Cup, Appleby is hoping he can secure more top-level glory later this month with D’Bai and Dubhe.
He said: “Dubhe will go for the Sydney Cup on April 13. We saw the improvement from stepping him up to two miles on his last start and he goes there as a competitive player.
“D’Bai heads for the All Aged Stakes which is a Group One over seven furlongs. He is already a Group Two winner having won the Al Fahidi out in Dubai in January.
“We felt they were the right horses to go down there with to hopefully be competitive.”
Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby finished off his Meydan campaign with a third successive hat-trick as Cross Counter, Blue Point and Old Persian all recorded victories at the Dubai World Cup.
The Newmarket handler has been a class apart over the last 12 months, and with William Buick in the saddle, his services were in safe hands at the world’s richest horse race meeting.
Old Persian’s dominant victory in the Sheema Classic confirmed a treble for the Godolphin duo following the previous triumphs of Cross Counter in the Dubai Gold Cup and Blue Point in the Al Quoz Sprint.
The sire of Dubawi was in firm control throughout the $6 million race. As the eight runners swung into the homestretch, the Norwegian-born jockey was able to move clear and established a winning break before the final 200 metres.
Buick, winning the Sheema Classic for a record fourth time, said: “That was fantastic. All my Sheema Classic wins have been very special and this was right up there. It’s great when it comes off.
“Christophe (Lemaire) slackened the pace a bit and I was trapped rounding the bend. I managed to get out and the horse showed what a good turn of foot he’s got at the end of a race like that.”
Appleby said: “William made a concerted move on the turn to make sure he got out and I thought it was a fantastic ride.
“I’m not sure where this horse will go, but thinking long-term, we may have ParisLongchamp on our minds (Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe).”
Blue Point, meanwhile, cemented his status as one of the best sprinters in the world with an impressive victory in the Al Quoz Sprint.
The Appleby trained horse has been in outstanding form throughout the Dubai World Cup Carnival, with wins in the Meydan Sprint and Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint.
Blue Point broke well and Buick was happy to stay composed, until 200metres from home, where he made his move.
The sire of Shamardal quickly asserted and put the race to bed, crossing the line one length clear of Belvoir Bay.