Charlie Appleby had to wait a long time before becoming a trainer and is now determined to have as much success as possible.
Growing up in Devon, with his parents keeping ponies and pure-bred Arab horses, Appleby began working with point-to-pointers at the age of 12. From there he became an amateur jockey and went to work with jump trainers Jackie Retter and Angela Knight.
After that he started a job as travelling head lad for Susan Piggott, wife of riding great Lester, before moving on to similar employment working under David Loder.
He then began working for the Maktoum family owned Godolphin stables when Loder moved to France to become their private trainer for two-year olds. Loder soon went back to being a public trainer but Appleby continued a career working as travelling head lad, stable head lad and eventually became assistant trainer. This saw him work under great trainers such as Saeed Bin Suroor and gave him a brilliant grounding for an eventual training career of his own.
In 2013, Godolphin became embroiled in a doping scandal that threatened to destroy their whole brand and saw head trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni banned. The Maktoum family turned to Appleby to help rebuild their damaged reputation and he took over the training licence at Moulton Paddocks in Newmarket, Suffolk.
Not long after becoming a trainer he would have his first Group 1 winner when ‘Outstrip’ won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita in the United States. In Great Britain, he saddled 304 runners in his first year as a trainer with 60 winners by the end of the year.
Although it was a tough time for everyone involved with the Godolphin operation and especially Moulton Paddocks, Appleby had worked around horses his entire life and was passionate about rebuilding a brand that once had a fine reputation.
Moving into 2014, the only classic winner in the stables was ‘Encke’, the banned former St Leger winner who was a big reminder of the scandal that still cast a shadow over everyone associated with Godolphin. Appleby did the best he could with what he had and ended the year with 102 winners from 549 runners. This included his first domestic Group 1 winner when ‘Charming Thought’ won the Middle Park Stakes on Dubai Future Champions day at Newmarket.
The several two-year olds on the gallops during the 2014 season were a sure sign of a stables determined to recapture its glory days, with Appleby striving to find the next great classic winners. Godolphin’s founder, Sheikh Mohammed, also helped with the rebuilding by spending big at the most exclusive bloodstock auction that year.
The hard work was seemingly paying off during the 2015 season, when Appleby had his first ever Royal Ascot winner with ‘Space Age’ winning the King George V Stakes on day three of the carnival. Things were certainly looking up for the team at Moulton Paddocks as they had 151 winners from 663 runners in 2015, a 23% win rate. This was by far Appleby’s most successful season out of his three as a trainer.
By the middle of March 2016, Appleby had trained over 300 winners from over 1500 runners on the British flat and had a win rate of just over 20%. This was along with his several winners in both the USA and United Arab Emirates.
At the time of writing this article, Appleby’s only winner of 2016 in Great Britain so far is ‘Anglophile’ at Lingfield in January. That will undoubtedly change soon though and he will be hoping for more success, with several early entries into Group 1 races including five for the Investec Derby at Epsom and eight for the Irish Derby at the Curragh.
Charlie Appleby may have taken over the training licence at Moulton Paddocks at a controversial time but, just three years on, he is already moving on from the scandal that almost ruined a great organisation within the racing world.
The future is looking bright for Appleby, Moulton Paddocks and the entire Godolphin brand with the start of the 2016 British turf season just days away.