Red-Hot Charlie Appleby Talks Arc, Breeders' Cup On Writers' Room

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Charlie ApplebyMegan Ridgwell

It takes a lot for a European trainer to become the biggest story in North American racing, but that's exactly what Charlie Appleby has accomplished, among many other things, this year. Capturing three of the four Grade I races at Woodbine plus the Jockey Club Derby at Belmont last weekend to follow up several other successful raids of top-level events in the U.S. this summer, Appleby has quite simply taken the racing world by storm at just 46 years old. Wednesday, during a short break from shopping the Goffs Orby Sale in Ireland, Appleby joined the TDN Writers' Room presented by Keeneland to talk about his whirlwind year, his contenders for the G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and Breeders' Cup and all the history he is still trying to make.

Asked about this weekend's Arc, where he has two of the top contenders in standout 3-year-olds Adayar (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) and Hurricane Lane (Ire) (Frankel {GB}), Appleby, calling in via Zoom as the Green Group Guest of the Week said, “Adayar won the [Epsom] Derby and went on to win the King George, the first horse since Galileo to do so. We met with a minor setback in preparation for a trial [for the Arc], which was always annoying, you don't want to have a setback at any stage, but I told myself during that point, no horse has actually won the Arc trial and gone on to win an Arc, so I took it as a positive that someone was telling me not to go. Subsequently since then, he's not missed a beat and he couldn't afford to miss a beat either. So he looks great, and he's the best horse in the race. Hurricane Lane is a rock-solid horse, he's won an Irish Derby, a Grand Prix de Paris and a St. Leger. No horse has won a St. Leger and gone on to win an Arc. So along with the excitement of running in the 100th Arc, there's the potential to create history with Hurricane Lane. We don't look back on history, we try to make history. So we'll have a crack at it.”

Appleby also discussed his upbringing in racing and the wealth of experience he accrued that has allowed for his unprecedented success in recent years, saying, “I was brought up in the west country of England. You become more hands-on down there in dealing with the horses. From there, I moved up the country and went to my first stable in Newmarket with [11-time British champion jockey] Lester Piggott. In terms of racing knowledge, I don't think I could have been in better hands. I spent a lot of time watching racing with Lester and the great [trainer] Barney Curley. I learned how to read a race out there and understand the styles of racing and the pace of a race. Then I went on to David Loder's yard, which was a force to be reckoned with in the '90s and 2000s, where I learned a lot about 2-year-olds, how far to push them and what we needed to achieve to get them to Group 1 status. Then I joined Godolphin at the age of 19 or 20 and from then on have been very lucky. I've had a management position throughout my whole career in Godolphin. It allowed me to travel worldwide and go overseas. I spent a lot of time at Arlington and Belmont. It allows you to meet people out there who I never normally would have met in the racing world. You see these entrepreneurs and they influence you, you get a buzz, and you learn how they strive for success. It gets instilled in you in a way. So 'can't' isn't in our vocabulary. We strive to achieve, and if it doesn't happen, we take the positives out of it and move on. The negatives are brushed aside.”

Elsewhere on the show, which is also sponsored by Spendthrift Farm, West Point Thoroughbreds and Legacy Bloodstock, the writers reacted to the news of Arlington Park's official sale to the Chicago Bears, lamented the case of a horse who shouldn't have been allowed to race at Belterra Park and looked forward to a massive weekend of racing on both sides of the Atlantic. Click here to watch the podcast; click here for the audio-only version or find it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

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