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Native Trail seals Appleby’s place in history books with emphatic Curragh strike
By Justin O’Hanlon
Charlie Appleby and Godolphin created history on a damp Curragh afternoon on Saturday, as the victory of Native Trail in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas gave them a unprecedented clean sweep of the English, French and Irish 2,000 Guineas with three different colts.
Native Trail was returning to the scene of his most impressive juvenile triumph of last season in the Group 1 National Stakes, and in justifying odds of 2-5 under William Buick, he became the joint- second-shortest-priced winner of the race. The only shorter was 1-5 shot Windsor Slipper in 1942.
But it was not all plain sailing. Drawn in stall one, the imposing Oasis Dream colt was trapped in a bit of a pocket with Ryan Moore on Ivy League holding him in, and he was off the bridle to boot. When the gap came though, he picked up as expected and fought hard to see off the challenge of unheralded 40-1 shot New Energy by a length and three-quarters, with the Andrew Balding-trained Imperial Fighter another three-parts of a length back in third under Ben Coen.
Trainer Charlie Appleby was not really letting on beforehand, but the prospect of rain earlier in the day was a potential worry, and it was perhaps the weather gods signalling their approval that the rain did not begin to fall until Native Trail was safe and sound back in the winner’s enclosure.
Appleby said: “I was delighted the rain didn’t come. For a big horse and a horse of his action, I would always be more confident with a sounder surface. I wasn’t going to dart away and give excuses about it being slower than good as a negative, I’m a believer that good horses can get through it, but I’m delighted the rain is coming now.
“I was always confident in William and the horse. He has ridden him in all of his races and plenty at home. He knows what this horse can do. The thought process before the race was to get out and get the box seat. Once it wasn’t there I could see what William was doing. Once William gave him the office and asked him to go to work I knew this horse was not going to falter. He’s done it in spades in the end.”
Reflecting on the achievement of winning the 2,000 Guineas with Coroebus, the Poule d’Essai Des Poulains with Modern Games and now this race with Native Trail, Appleby said: “To do what’s been done is just a huge achievement for His Highness [Sheikh Mohammed] and especially the team at home. I’m just glad to have been a part of it. I knew coming into today what we were trying to achieve and this horse has done it.”
As for future plans for the three Guineas winners, particularly with Ascot in mind, he added: “There are discussions to be had about the St James’s Palace. It is the last race where three-year-olds can take each other on at that level over a mile. You always like to see the best take each other on whatever the sport and you never know.”
Buick said: “He really does deliver. He’s really deserved to win a Guineas and I’m delighted he’s done it today. I’m delighted for His Highness, for Charlie, for Godolphin. To win three different Guineas with three different horses is amazing.
“I was on the best horse. When I saw we were drawn one, I was thinking how do we get out of there! He jumped okay and they went a decent pace. Once I was able to manoeuvre him out and get in the clear I felt the race was over. Everything he does is so professional. He has a big stride and he knows how to use it, I’d say he’ll stay a mile and a quarter as well as being a fast miler.”
In many ways, the story of the race was the near-miss of runner-up New Energy, trained near Summerhill, County Meath, by Sheila Lavery and ridden by Billy Lee, who could not be in better form.
She said: “I was really looking forward to running him because he has only run four times and has never really been able to get a lead in his races.
“In the Tetrarch he had to make his own running for example. We were not really sure what we had. Billy gave him a beautiful ride but my heart goes out to Robbie Colgan, who would have ridden him but for picking up an injury in the yard a couple of weeks ago.
“It’s just fantastic. We put him in the St James’s Palace and we might well go there. We may as well live the dream.”
Picture: Native Trail wins the Irish 2000 Guineas (Patrick McCann (Racing Post))