Year in Review: The Year of Charlie Appleby

December 23, 2021

In 2021, Charlie Appleby came to the fore as a top-class trainer as he took 17 top-level victories around the world.

While Ireland’s Aidan O’Brien and England’s John Gosden normally claim most of the European headlines, Appleby’s Group and Grade 1 wins this season ensured he stole the limelight from all others.

Appleby, based at Moulton Paddocks at Newmarket, England, is Godolphin’s main trainer in Europe. In a season which saw the Englishman crowned British Champion Flat Trainer for the first time, he won the British Champions Sprint with Creative Force, the Darley Dewhurst Stakes with Native Trail, both the Cazoo Derby at Epsom and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes with Adayar and the Ladbrokes St Leger with Hurricane Lane.

Hurricane Lane also won the Grand Prix de Paris in France, while Space Blues claimed the Prix de la Foret, also on French soil. In Ireland, Appleby won the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby with Hurricane Lane and the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes with Native Trail – rated Europe’s top juvenile.

His major wins were not confined to Europe, however. In Canada, Albahr gave Appleby a first Summer Stakes; Walton Street gave him a first success in the Canadian International Stakes, while Wild Beauty was a second victory in the Natalma Stakes for the 46 year-old English handler. 

In the USA, Althiqa won both the Just A Game Stakes and the Diana Stakes, while the Godolphin trainer had three wins at the Breeders’ Cup: Yibir in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, Space Blues in the Breeders’ Cup Mile and Modern Games in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

Though Appleby’s Hurricane Lane and Adayar were multiple Group 1 winners during the season, it was the Aidan O’Brien-trained St Mark’s Basilica who ended the season as Timeform’s top-rated three-year-old on a mark of 132. The son of Siyouni is the first horse since Juddmonte Farms’ Frankel to be Timeform top-rated at both two and three.

The Ballydoyle inmate was unbeaten in four Group 1 victories during 2021. He began his successful season when taking the French 2000 Guineas at Longchamp in May, before following that up by winning the French Derby at Chantilly three weeks later. In July, he beat Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Addeybb in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown, England, before ending his season with a battling success over 2020 Longines Breeders’ Cup winner Tarnawa in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.  

Aidan O’Brien was champion flat trainer yet again in Ireland, with winning the title being based on prize-money won rather than the number of winners trained. O’Brien handled horses won almost €900,000 more than his nearest rival in the championship, his eldest son Joseph, who interestingly trained 20 more winners than his father.

County Kerry, Ireland-born jockey Oisín Murphy was crowned champion flat jockey in Britain for the third time, having previously claimed the title in 2019 and 2020. Unfortunately since then Murphy has relinquished his licence to the Jockey Club in Britain, having entered rehab to deal with alcohol-related problems. 

Here’s hoping that the highly talented 26-year-old, a Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner on Marche Lorraine this season, gets his life back in order and that we’ll see him back to his best in 2022.

Photo: Charlie Appleby (@ChampionsSeries)

Contributing Authors

Breandán Ó hUallacháin

Breandán Ó hUallacháin writes about Irish, British, French and Australian horseracing, both National Hunt and Flat. He has an interest in the history of racing...

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@PastTheWire you did do her justice, this is a great read on a tragic moment in the history of our great sport, thank you.

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