Horse Talk with Simon Jackson:
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CHARLIE APPLEBY is keeping his options open with Investec Derby winner Masar after his memorable victory at Epsom Downs on Saturday.
The son of 2008 Derby winner New Approach secured a debut Investec Derby win for Appleby and was the first to carry the famous blue colours of owners Godolphin to victory in the Epsom Classic.
The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on October 7 and the QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot on October 20 are the likely long-term goals for Masar. The immediate target is the Irish Derby at the Curragh on June 30 or the Coral Eclipse at Sandown on July 7.
Masar heads the betting for the Coral Eclipse despite the requirement for connections to pay a £50,000 supplementary fee to secure a pace in the 10 furlong contest. He is also prominent in the betting for the Irish Derby, where the market is headed by QIPCO 2000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior, who finished three places behind Masar at Epsom.
“It was incredible for myself and for His Highness [owner Sheikh Mohammed] and the team,” Appleby said. “And the fact that he was a homebred made it very special as well. People always say what is your dream in your profession and it has always been my goal to get the Godolphin blue across the line first in the Derby.
“We were a 20-1 shot which did surprise me but then again I’d never had a Classic winner before. For me I couldn’t have been any happier with the horse coming into the race. He was very impressive in the Craven and he lost nothing in defeat in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas. The first thing William [Buick – winning jockey] said when he got off that day is that he felt like a 10 furlong horse against milers. And immediately that backed up what we hoped to hear, and with his pedigree it fell into place and there was only one place we were going to go and that was step up to the mile and a half,” the trainer told Great British Racing.
“I always like to work back from races and the Arc or Champions Day is what we will work back from. We will let the dust settle and let the horse tell us. I would be confident stepping back to a mile and a quarter. He showed that he travelled very well on Saturday and he showed what speed he had when he won the Craven. He has got stronger from the Guineas to the Derby and he put on condition and started to fill out a bit more. Mentally I felt he was in a very good place and had grown up so much in the last six months and it was just a case of his physique catching up with were his head was at.”
Buick added: “It probably hasn’t quite sunk in properly yet. It was magical. That’s the only way to describe it. And of course, it is very special for everyone here [at Godolphin]. There was a feel good vibe around Epsom and everyone was pleased for Sheikh Mohammed and his family and the operation.
“Charlie had amazing confidence in the horse going into the race and no person was more confident in the horse than him. The QIPCO 2000 Guineas probably didn’t quite work out for us but he still ran well and Charlie was confident he would get the trip in the Derby. You can never expect to win the Derby but we knew he had all the credentials.
“He travelled beautifully and it was a pretty straight forward race, he did everything right. He was a jockey’s dream and he made my job very easy. He put himself in a good spot, he relaxed beautifully and he quickened up very well in the straight. He did a great job.
“From my point of view he could drop back to a mile and a quarter easily. He is a very versatile horse and he is a fast horse as well. He’s always been a lovely horse to deal with and always been an important horse. Since the day he’s stepped into the yard he’s been the apple of Charlie’s eye and a lot of people here.”
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