Friday 17 January 2020

Four-timer quietens talk of Godolphin crisis

Charlie Appleby had a good day at Newmarketcides. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Charlie Appleby had a good day at Newmarketcides. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Chris Cook

Crisis? What crisis? Godolphin's all-blue silks were carried to victory in the first four races at Newmarket yesterday as Sheikh Mohammed's team began to move on from the shock of suddenly losing their chief executive in midweek.

Three of the winners came from Charlie Appleby, one of Godolphin's two main trainers in this town, and another from John Gosden, who has a sprinkling of their horses in his nearby yard.

Appleby mopped up the first two races with a couple of two-year-olds, a division in which he has had notable success this year, which may have led, indirectly, to Tuesday's resignation of John Ferguson. Saeed bin Suroor, Godolphin's other main trainer, appears to believe the division of two-year-olds this year has been somewhat unfair - he is yet to have a runner from that age group, while Appleby has now had 10 winners from 15 runners. Bin Suroor vented in the press, prompting Ferguson's departure.

Bin Suroor's only runner yesterday was at Haydock, so he was at least spared the sight of seeing Appleby making so many trips to the winners' enclosure. He began in the opener with the debutant Glorious Journey, who cost £2.6m at auction in October, when Ferguson was doing the bidding.

Regally bred, the colt has clearly generated quite a lot of expectation at Godolphin. Appleby said of Ferguson: "John made his decision. I can only thank him for the help he's given me over the years. He's been a pleasure to work with.

"I'm employed by Godolphin to race horses and prepare them to the best of my ability with the team I have and that's what I shall carry on doing. I'm not going to get involved in anything more than that, it's not my department."

Joe Osborne, appointed as Godolphin's interim chief executive, was in Appleby's stable this week, introducing himself to staff. It appears he has only half of Ferguson's job, as the departed man was also racing manager and liaised with the trainers over running plans. With no one now in that role, the trainers are free to make more such decisions by themselves.

In Bin Suroor's case, this is not much of a change, since it seems he decided to cut Ferguson out of the chain of command some time ago. If the Sheikh decides to appoint a new racing manager, that person will surely view the winning of Bin Suroor's trust and support as job No 1. Whatever the fairness or otherwise of the way horses have been split between the two trainers up to now, Bin Suroor, a native Dubaian who clearly has the Sheikh's ear, can expect to get the cream in the future.

In the meantime, Appleby hopes to take a good number of his juvenile team to Royal Ascot. "There's not a standout among them but they won't look out of place in the line-up," he said. He also has the newly gelded Bay Of Poets for the Hampton Court, Endless Time for the Gold Cup and Frontiersman for the Hardwicke. His classy Hawkbill is likely to be saved for another day and a softer surface.

Meanwhile, Son Of Rest produced a tremendous weight-carrying performance to finish a commanding winner of the Junefest Handicap at the Curragh. The 4/1 favourite travelled powerfully for Chris Hayes and pulled clear with Patuano approaching the furlong pole. Fozzy Stack's charge was carrying over two stone more than that rival, but he got on top in the closing stages to score by a length and three-quarters.

Stack said: "That's his job - sprinting. It probably won't be soft enough at Ascot so he could go for the six-furlong Listed race (Belgrave Stakes) at the Curragh on Derby weekend."

Useful dual-purpose performer Tigris River won for the second time on the Flat for Joseph O'Brien, beating Zafayan by two-and-three-quarter lengths as the 4/1 joint-favourite in the Brady Burns Insurance Brokers Supporting Junefest Handicap.

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