In his own words, British coach Charlie Appleby took things “to a different level” in 2021, recording 17 notable Group and Grade One victories, including the June Derby and the Irish Derby double.
Master Godolphin has celebrated wherever he has gone this year and capped off the season with a hat-trick at the Breeders’ Cup in the United States last weekend.
A hallmark of Appleby’s success has been the dominance of its two-year-old stars, a clear sign that there will be nothing stopping the boys in blue in 2022.
Here’s a look at some of the highlights from Appleby’s unforgettable year …
Double derby glory
June brought the success of the Derby on both sides of the Irish Sea for Appleby, both at Epsom and The Curragh.
In England, Appleby had three riders and got the Classic with the trio’s outsider, Adayar. The 16/1 shot, ridden by Adam Kirby, followed the leaders before hitting the front two furlongs and pulling away for a four-length victory.
Hurricane Lane (more on him later) finished third for William Buick, with One Ruler further behind in sixth.
Adayar certainly proved it was no fluke when the King George landed at Ascot the following month, and he earned a creditable fourth place at the Arch despite traveling with great enthusiasm the entire run.
If the Epsom Derby wasn’t enough for Team Appleby, they took the Irish equivalent with Hurricane Lane, knocking down Lone Eagle and Frankie Dettori for a dramatic win by a neck.
Like Adayar, Hurricane Lane’s form continued for the remainder of the 2021 season, dominating his rivals for a six-length victory at the Grand Prix De Paris at Longchamp.
Lane takes the leger
Hurricane Lane also won the final British Classic of the season at Doncaster at the St Leger Stakes in Doncaster.
It would be an additional two stadiums for the three-year-old, but that wasn’t a problem as he moved into contention under Buick, before walking away and winning by just under three lengths, and was cut down at the end.
Hurricane Lane, like Adayar, would race in the Arch, finishing third defeated by just under one length by German outsider Torquator Tasso.
Raise the pace at two years
One day after the Leger, Appleby’s most exciting new star, Native Trail, stepped up to take Group One Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at Curragh.
He beat favorite Point Lonsdale and, in doing so, replaced Aidan O’Brien’s colt at the top of the early bets for next year’s opening Classic, the 2000 Guineas.
The son of Oasis Dream, who had already secured Group Two success in the Superlative Stakes in his second career start, consolidated his place at the top of the class by remaining in Group One Dewhurst Stakes.
Appleby’s good run continued across the pond when he teamed up with Dettori in Canada.
Walton Street won the Canadian International, while two other two-year-olds emerged as international superstars: Wild Beauty at the Natalma Stakes and Albahr at the Summer Stakes.
Domination in Del Mar
Returning Dermot Weld champion Tarnawa was the main attraction heading into the Breeders’ Cup, but there was no question that Appleby’s team was the most feared by the local team in Del Mar.
A three-time winner already at the ‘flat racing world championships’, Appleby doubled his tally and with dramatic flair.
On ‘Future Stars Friday,’ Modern Games gave Appleby a third Juvenile Turf after teammate Albahr was pulled due to spot issues.
The same remarkably happened the next day, when Space Blues took the mile after Master of The Seas was declared a late runner.
Yibir then made an impressive triplet after flying home under an inspired Buick to knock down the grass, denying Broome and Aidan O’Brien’s team.
The class of 2022
It could well be a case of more of the same in 2022, with a host of exciting two-year-olds that could make it through the next season.
Native Trail looks like a standout colt and currently has a 3/1 chance for the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in late April after being undefeated this season.
Modern Games was impressive at Del Mar and it looks like it could step up the journey for a stellar season of 2022, while Coroebus, 5/1 for the 2000 Guineas, also looks extremely exciting after winning the Autumn Stakes in October.
Having been no worse for his antics at the Breeders’ Cup, Albahr could still have more to come, while Zetland Stakes winner Goldspur and Ascot New Science winner are also some to see.