Appleby shining in the spotlight

Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby had the best winner of his fledgling career as a trainer when Outs

Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby had the best winner of his fledgling career as a trainer when Outstrip won in America. He is pictured celebrating with winning jockey Mike Smith. - Credit: Archant

At the start of the 2013 flat racing season, not many had heard of Charlie Appleby.

He was happy to be a behind-the-scenes player. But in July he was thrust into the limelight when he became a Godolphin trainer alongside multi award-winner, Saeed Bin Suroor.

Godolphin, Sheikh Mohammed's multi-million pound racing operation, was dragged through a drugs scandal which ended with trainer Mahmoud Al Zarooni being banned for eight years.

Appleby, with his Suffolk background, was now on the worldwide stage. He had 200 racehorses in his yard at Moulton Paddocks in Newmarket. But it was not a shock for the likeable rookie trainer, as he had been associated with Godolphin for 15 years.

'It was fortunate I had been with Godolphin for so long and was used to the number and calibre of horses I would be training. It was not a case of being thrown in at the deep end,' said Appleby.

'I'd learned a lot from Saeed. We are a team and if he has a winner or I have a winner, the important thing is that Godolphin has won so we are all winners.'

Appleby had plenty of early career winners but hit the heights when he became a Breeders' Cup-winning trainer by sending out Outstrip to win the Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita last month.

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'It was a truly amazing moment,' said Charlie. 'It was a team effort and I cannot thank Sheikh Mohammed enough for giving me the opportunity. It was surreal but I was happy as it allowed me to thank Godolphin for having faith in giving me the trainer's position,' he continued.

Outstrip's jockey Mike Smith was impressed with the horse while Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford was ecstatic with the stable's big-race success.

'Charlie has done a fantastic job. It ended a fantastic 2013 for us. We have been champion owner in Dubai and Britain and we will end up having won more races than ever before in a calendar year,' added Crisford.

With the British turf flat season over until March, Appleby is looking forward to the winter. He is off to Dubai and hopes to make his mark at the January racing carnival there.

'Although the British season starts at Doncaster in March, we really target the Craven meeting at Newmarket.

'I don't set targets and don't feel under pressure. All I want is healthy and well horses and with a bit of luck the winners will follow and the horses will do the talking for me,' he added.

Clearly the classics, Epsom and Royal Ascot are the places and races at which Godolphin expects to be competitive.

Born in Southampton and raised in Devon, Charlie nevertheless has East Anglian roots. His father was born in Colchester where the Applebys have lived since the 16th century.

His great-grandfather was a World War One Suffolk Regiment prisoner of war who ploughed the family fields near Woodbridge with Suffolk Punches. His great grandmother Grace Jarvis' family had a brickyard in Norfolk.

Apart from winters in Dubai and a two-year spell with trainer David Loder in France, Charlie has lived in Newmarket for 20 of his 38 years since first working for Lester Piggott's wife Susan in 1993.

Thankfully he didn't have to wait too long to count the winners after taking over with Godolphin. Since taking on the role, he has recorded more than 50 winners. His total winning prize money stands at more than £587,000.

Charlie's father Andrew is also in the racing business. He works as a horsebox driver with Newmarket Racehorse Transport. Born in Colchester and educated at Elmstead Primary School and the old Gilberd School on North Hill, Andrew played cricket on the Castle Park for Colchester and East Essex and also hockey for Colchester.

Andrew also has a daughter Victoria, known as Dizzy, a former apprentice jockey now with the Darley trainer Peter Snowden in Australia. 'The first horse Charlie sat on, when he was two, was Stroller, the show-jumper of Marion Mould's which completed at the 1968 Olympics. That was just the start of his career around horses,' said Andrew.

Those early days must seem a million miles away as the trainer grows into his role in the Godolphin spotlight.