Charlie Appleby expects the battle to be crowned champion British Flat trainer to go right down to the wire – and could be decided by the big Qipco Champion Stakes clash between 2021 Derby hero Adayar and William Haggas’ unbeaten superstar Baaeed.
Appleby ended John Gosden’s three-year hold on the trainers’ crown when becoming champion for the first time last year and, as the current campaign draws to a close, he is locked in a battle with the master of Somerville Lodge in his bid to retain the title.
He made a blistering start to the season by securing the 2000 Guineas with Coroebus and although he has continued to have big-race success across the globe in 2022, Haggas has kept firmly on his coat tails on home soil, primarily down to the on-track exploits of Baaeed and ably assisted by his high-class stablemates.
The Moulton Paddocks handler believes the duel between the two Newmarket handlers is good for the sport, but accepts personal ambition is not the primary objective when training for the ever-powerful Godolphin operation and also, in Baaeed, that Haggas has the perfect weapon at his disposal to get over the line for the first time.
“It’s going to go down to the wire and it’s going to go down to Champions Day, really,” said Appleby, who led by just over £130,000 at the start of play on Sunday.
“I feel it is good for the sport. Who wants someone who is way out in front and everyone else is cashing their tickets in with a few months to go? We’re both keen to try and get the job done – and he has a horse in Baaeed who could get the job done for him on Champions Day.”
The Trainers Championship is judged on total prize money won from January 1st - December 31st 2022
WINS PLACES RUNS PRIZE MONEY
1 Charlie Appleby 129 199 415 £5,371,4912
2 William Haggas 139 294 572 £5,241,051
He continued: “We’ve been lucky enough that they have been fit and well and running well all season and we’re still in the hunt for it.
“So, going into Champions Day, it is really exciting for everyone involved and I don’t think anyone has gone back-to-back and backed up their first championship with a second for some time. If I can achieve that, it will be something nice.
“If it’s achieved then great, but it’s been a good season either way. As I keep telling the team, what we achieved in the spring with the three Guineas winners has never been done and will be a hard task to go and be done again.
“At the end of the day, to be crowned champion trainer last year was fantastic for myself and the team, but the position I’m in is more to find a stallion, so you’ve got to do what is right for the horses and if that means jeopardising my place on the champion trainers’ table, so be it.”
The Godolphin handler is also full of praise for his long-time ally William Buick, who will be crowned champion jockey for the first time at Ascot on Qipco British Champions Day.
Buick, who was champion apprentice in 2008 alongside David Probert and was also runner-up in the top jockey standings 12 months ago, is over 60 winners clear of nearest pursuer Hollie Doyle and adds the main prize to his impressive CV in the saddle.
“Since he’s joined Godolphin he has been a huge asset to the team,” said Appleby. “To be champion apprentice and then go on to be champion jockey is a huge accolade to him and his professionalism.
“What we have seen over the last three years is a very professional and focused William Buick. From Andrew Balding he went to John Gosden and then joined us, and he has sat on plenty of nice horses and had plenty of big-race success. I’m sure if you asked him the Derby will always be his highlight.
“But from what I’ve seen myself as a friend and a work colleague, I’ve seen how driven he is, he’s chiselled to an inch of his life, and he just goes out there and is just machine-like. Win, lose or draw he just gets off, gets on the next one, and gives it 100 per cent again.
“It is brilliant for his family to see what he has achieved, and deservedly so.”
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