Charlie Applebly looks for more Classic clues in Solario Stakes at Sandown

Trainer Charlie Appleby
Trainer Charlie Appleby

There aren't many more high-profile positions in racing than that of number one trainer for Godolphin but for Charlie Appleby, it's a pressure he seems to thrive on and he already appears to be plotting more Classic success ahead of the Betway Solario Stakes at Sandown on Saturday.

Masar's brilliant victory in the 2018 Epsom Derby was a touchstone moment in Appleby's training career, one that has quickly seen him become one of the most respected handlers in the world, three Breeders' Cup wins and a Melbourne Cup success further enhancing his glittering CV.

Nevertheless, it was Masar's Derby triumph, his sole British Classic success to date, that was most significant given it was the first time the famous royal blue colours of Godolphin and owner Sheikh Mohammed had been carried to victory in Epsom's Blue Riband.

Masar's path to Epsom glory began with a verdict over Invincible Army at Goodwood back in May 2017 but it was his defeat of subsequent Irish Guineas 2000 hero Romanised in the Solario Stakes later that summer that confirmed him to be a top-class colt in the making.

The rest, as they, is history but the significance of the Solario Stakes has continued to grow with last year's victor, Too Darn Hot, going on to win three times at Group One level after routing his Sandown rivals in breathtaking fashion 12 months ago.

Appleby didn't have a runner to contest the Solario Stakes on that occasion, his premier juvenile last summer, Line Of Duty, always looking more of a stayer before eventually going on to land the Breeders' Cup Juvenile over a mile in early November.

Appleby certainly has the ammunition this time around, though, with the unbeaten Pinatubo already heading the betting for next year's 2000 Guineas, his two-year-olds currently operating at a 24 per cent strike-rate this year, and Al Suhail boasting a tall reputation at Moulton Paddocks Stables.

The dogs had been barking long before Al Suhail made his racecourse debut in a traditionally hot maiden at the July Meeting and he ran a race full of promise on that occasion, travelling supremely well and easing into the lead before just getting run out of things by fellow newcomer Al Madhar close home.

It should prove strong form - the seventh and eighth home have already won since while the horse to finish 11th, Celtic Art, was runner-up in the hugely-valuable Cornivial Maiden at York last week.

Al Suhail duly built on that opening effort, breezing to a bloodless success at Yarmouth four weeks later when he sported a first-time hood applied in an effort to better channel his obvious exuberance.

He looks a very smart prospect and it is noteworthy that Appleby has nominated him for this race, one with happy memories for the stable and one which will see him lock horns with Positive, an exciting colt in his own right and who chased home Pinatubo in the Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.

Appleby will have a fair idea where Al Suhail stands with Pinatubo, and Positive for that matter, and entries in the Group One National Stakes and Group One Dewhurst Stakes later in the season confirm the suspicion that he is expected to go right to the very top.

With Pinatubo currently dominating antepost lists for the 2000 Guineas, it will be no surprise if Appleby has an even tighter grip on that market come 3.45 on Saturday afternoon.

If Al Suhail had a big reputation before he stepped foot on a racecourse, Visinari had an even bigger one after he wowed the sectionals brigade with his debut offering at Newmarket in June.

Trainer Mark Johnston made no secret that he believed his colt to be of Group One class but defeats in the July Stakes and then a hammering at the hands of Pinatubo at Goodwood quickly burst that bubble and Ryan Moore is now recalled to the saddle in a bid to get his career back on track.

Visinari made a big impression on debut at the July Course
Visinari made a big impression on debut at the July Course

Connections haven't given up on the son of Dark Angel but he no longer possesses the sexy profile of Al Suhail, or even Kameko, a son of Kitten's Joy who made a successful start to his career when beating a subsequent winner over this very course and distance in July.

The latter falls very much into the 'could be anything' category but you don't have to look too closely to realise that in Al Suhail, the boys in blue are confident they have got themselves a real good one here.

The very fact they come to this race, two years on from Masar's first big-race success, tells you that and it's now up to to Al Suhail, son of another Godolphin great in the mighty Dubawi, to prove his worth and confirm himself a genuine Classic contender.

After a quiet summer for Godolphin in the domestic British Classics, and following retirements to a number of the operation's high-profile older horses, Appleby will be keen to add another big puncher to a string of horses that are now young in age but brimming with potential.

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