When Charlie Appleby cut short 45th birthday celebrations with his family to head to Sandown only one result was going to make up for it, and Ghaiyyath duly delivered the perfect present with victory in the Coral-Eclipse.
The clash between Enable – making her first start since her heartbreaking defeat in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – and last month’s hugely impressive Coronation Cup winner had been billed as a potential race of the season. It did not disappoint.
Any signs of nerves Appleby may have had in the build up were hard to detect, and as the son of Dubawi passed the post two and a quarter lengths clear of the mighty Enable, there were cheers from a number of those lucky few in the stands.
However, while Appleby was among them, it was a present not just for him to celebrate but, in his opinion, one for the sport to savour.
Appleby said: “For the team we were coming into the race with a horse that was good enough to take her (Enable) on. Of course you are delighted, as it has been great for everybody. More importantly, it is great for racing for everyone to see a great battle between two good horses.
“He is not the young pretender as he is a five-year-old now, but he has shown what he can do. Him and Enable battling up the straight was a good spectacle and I’m very proud to have been part of it.”
Ever since winning the Autumn Stakes at two, hopes were high Ghaiyyath would develop into a top-class performer and although suffering a truncated three-year-old campaign before showing glimpses of his talent last year, Appleby feels he now has the real deal on his hands.
He said: “I’d like to thank Sheikh Mohammed and the team at Godolphin for allowing this horse to stay in training.
“He is getting stronger and is more mature from four to five. The performance we saw in the Coronation was the first time in England we saw a performance like that.
“We’ve seen it in France and Germany, but I think people have a bit of respect for him after the Coronation – he grew in stature and respect also.”
Victory in such races is very much a team effort, something Appleby was keen to allude to, in particular the role of jockey William Buick, who came in for plenty of praise for getting his fractions right from the front.
He said: “It was a great tactical ride by William, as he is not an easy horse. Everyone would say it is easy to pop out in front, but you have got to get your fractions right on a big, galloping horse like that and hit every furlong at the right time.
“Again we saw him deliver a ride like that in the Coronation and he has done exactly the same today.”
Exuberant celebrations are not the style of Appleby, and as delighted he was with the display, he was also full admiration for Enable.
He said: “Coming into it was always going to be a great match and full credit to Enable, she has lost nothing in defeat there. It was her first run of the season and she looked fantastic in the paddock.
“I knew our fellow had the run under his belt and dropping back to 10 furlongs was never going to be a problem, while we know what this track is like for front runners.”
Appleby has trained some very good horses and while a pecking order is a difficult one to pin down, Ghaiyyath is now high up on the list.
He said: “Blue Point was always the horse that was close to my heart as he was a strong galloper in the afternoon and this horse falls under the same category.
“He is one of those horses you get up and look forward to watching in the mornings.”
It takes two horses to make a great race and though it might not have been equine superstar Enable’s day, it was a result her trainer John Gosden was satisfied with looking ahead to the rest of the season.
Gosden said: “She has put in a perfect performance and has come with a lovely run. I’m delighted with the way she came there.
“Frankie (Dettori) said the last half a furlong she just needed it, so he looked after her. It is the perfect platform we were looking for before the King George.”
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