The apples of Charlie's eye

The reigning British Champion Trainer has strong contenders on Dubai World Cup night



By Leslie Wilson Jr

Published: Tue 15 Mar 2022, 12:33 AM

Last updated: Tue 15 Mar 2022, 12:34 AM

Twelve months ago, Charlie Appleby had to settle for just the one success on Dubai World Cup night when Rebel’s Romance romped to a five and a half-length victory in the UAE Derby (G2), the final Classic of the UAE racing season.

However, the scenario looks a lot different this year with the in-form Godolphin handler training his sights on three targets at next Saturday’s nine-race showpiece at Meydan Racecourse.

Appleby, who trains out of the Al Marmoom desert stables in Dubai, has his elite string in fine order, having already amassed 19 domestic victories since January.

Man Of Promise will race in the G2 Al Quoz Sprint. — Images by Dubai Racing Club and AFP
Man Of Promise will race in the G2 Al Quoz Sprint. — Images by Dubai Racing Club and AFP

The reigning British flat racing Champion Trainer of 2021, Appleby’s principal contenders are Man Of Promise and Creative Force (Al Quoz Sprint, G2, 1200m Dirt), Manobo (Dubai Gold Cup, G2, 3,200m Turf), and Yibir (Sheema Classic, G1, 2,400m Turf).

But given the embarrassment of riches at his disposal and the versatility of several of his horses, Appleby has had to make some hard, if not difficult choices, to slot his wards into the right races.

Both Manobo and Yibir are middle-distance specialists and could have ended up in the same race if trained by different handlers, but Appleby has opted to keep them apart to hit two targets and not one.

Yibir is a strong contender for the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic.
Yibir is a strong contender for the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic.

“At the moment Manobo is heading towards the Dubai Gold Cup,” said Appleby, after Manobo’s imposing five and a half-length victory in the 3,200m Nad Al Sheba Trophy on Super Saturday. “We toyed with running him in the City of Gold [on Super Saturday] with the potential of looking at the Sheema Classic, but we’ve got Yibir on track at the moment for the Sheema.

“If he (Yibir) turns up fit and well, then we’ll keep them apart and Manobo will head to the Gold Cup.”

Perhaps nobody more than Appleby knows what is the best trip of a horse, having won both the Epsom Derby and Melbourne Cup over varying distances.

The handler has also won the Sheema Classic twice in the past with Hawkbill (2018) and Old Persian (2019), in addition to the Gold Cup with his staying star Cross Counter (2019.

While Manobo was part of Appleby’s team that arrived in Dubai before the start of the Dubai Worl Cup carnival, Yibir, together with sprinter Creative Force, remained at the handler’s Moulton Paddocks yard in Newmarket, England, following his impressive victory in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Del Mar last November.

Manobo will be contesting the G2 Dubai Gold Cup.
Manobo will be contesting the G2 Dubai Gold Cup.

Appleby explained: “Creative Force and Yibir have got a long summer ahead of them so I didn’t want to campaign them out here (Dubai) in any trials, I wanted to bring them straight out for World Cup night,” he said.

“They’re hitting every target back home, ship out this week, and then, if all that goes well, they’ll turn up on World Cup night in good form but very much with the season ahead of them.”

While Appleby was in a position to split Yibir and Manobo, he has no choice but to run Creative Force against his other sprint star, Man Of Promise.

Creative Force, was a classy winner of the Group 1 British Champions Sprint in October at Ascot, England, but Man Of Promise is no slouch himself, given the authority with which he dominated a strong field to win the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint.

Creative Force will line up in the G2 Al Quoz Sprint.
Creative Force will line up in the G2 Al Quoz Sprint.

“William Buick said if Man Of Promise can do the same in three weeks, you could be dealing with a potential Al Quoz winner,” he said after the race. “For Creative Force, the Al Quoz is the starting point and he’ll hopefully be going on to the Diamond Jubilee (G1 Royal Ascot, June 11).”

Appleby is chasing a third Al Quoz Sprint success following wins by Jungle Cat (2018) and Blue Point (2019).

So, if things go according to plan and his runners perform up to expectations, Appleby could leave Meydan on March 26 with a car-load of silverware.


More news from Daily updates