Charlie Appleby claims first Champion Trainer title after remarkable year

News | 6th December 2021

Charlie Appleby will today be crowned Champion Flat Trainer for the first time in his career at the HWPA Derby Awards at the Royal Lancaster in London to cap a memorable year.

Charlie Appleby, 46, a retained trainer for Godolphin based at Moulton Paddocks in Newmarket, has enjoyed a remarkable season with 17 Group/Grade 1 victories worldwide, including five British Group 1s and four QIPCO British Champions Series races.

The Trainers’ Championship runs from 1st January – 31st December 2021 and is based on prize money won in that period.

However, with Appleby on £4,888,314 (*as of before racing Monday 6th December) worth of prize money and £570,507 ahead of his nearest challenger Andrew Balding, fellow trainers and title rivals Balding, John/Thady Gosden and William Haggas have conceded the title with less than a month of the Championship remaining.

Charlie Appleby champion trainer horses

On winning his first Trainers’ Championship, Appleby said: “It’s huge for myself and the team at Moulton Paddocks.”

“Most importantly, from the get-go back in 2013, we set our stall out on what we’d like to try to achieve and that was getting the success back into Godolphin and getting the big race winners on the board, while also taking on stallions and broodmares to bolster the future.”

“We began growing steadily with winners and then the nicer horses started to come into the yard. Thankfully, we’ve been able to make the most of it.”

“The success over the last three to four years has improved year on year after a breakthrough year in 2018 with Masar winning the Derby and Cross Counter winning the Melbourne Cup.”

“Going into the start of this season we were confident our three-year-olds had wintered well as two-year-olds, but like everyone in the spring you’re trying to get a feeling of what you’re dealing with.”

“We felt early doors that our Middle Distance horses were coming to the fore and on the evidence of the Trials we were very competitive. We went on to win the Derby, the Irish Derby, the King George and ended up with the St Leger on British soil, so we really did tick all the boxes.”

2021 saw standout performances from several of Appleby’s stars, including Adayar, who became the first Cazoo Derby winner since Galileo in 2001 to follow up with victory in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes at Ascot, partnered by Adam Kirby and then latterly William Buick.

Appleby added: “I’d have to say the King George win gave us the most satisfaction this year. We were very lucky to win the Derby again, but to repeat history in terms of Adayar going on to win the King George, which hadn’t been done in 20 years, that was a very proud moment for the team. A lot of people here at Moulton Paddocks took a lot of pleasure from that.”

Appleby also succeeded in landing the world’s oldest Classic in 2021 for the first time, the Cazoo St Leger at Doncaster, with Hurricane Lane, who had previously claimed Group 1 prizes in Ireland (Irish Derby) and France (Grand Prix de Paris).

St Leger winners. Charlie Appleby Champion trainer and William Buick with trophies

Also pivotal to the Newmarket-based trainer’s success was Creative Force’s landmark win in the QIPCO British Champion Sprint Stakes on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot, which saw the trainer pull further clear of trainer Andrew Balding and his Kingsclere team in cumulative prize money, with just over two months of the year remaining.

Overall, Appleby has had 113 domestic winners, at a strike rate of 29%, and 196 places in 2021 from 389 runs, with further international top-level success in Canada, France, Ireland and a famous treble at the Breeders’ Cup in Del Mar, USA to top off a stellar year for the trainer.

Newmarket-based jockey Buick, retained rider for Appleby and close runner-up in this year’s Flat Jockeys’ Championship, said, “It’s a fantastic achievement for Charlie and very well deserved.”

“I feel very privileged to be working so closely with him and the great team at Moulton Paddocks and Godolphin. Charlie’s management of his horses and team has been a pleasure to witness and his CV as a young trainer is outstanding. Many congratulations Charlie.”

Creative Force and William Buick and trainer Charlie Appleby after winning The Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes

Charlie’s wife, Aisling, said: “As a family all five of us are very proud of Charlie and this award. He may have missed a few Pony Club meets and bath times but this makes it all worthwhile!”

Hugh Anderson, Managing Director at Godolphin (UK and Dubai) said: “Everyone at Godolphin is delighted for Charlie and very proud of his success this season.”

“It has been a superb year for Godolphin and he has led the charge with his handling of superstars like Adayar, Hurricane Lane and Native Trail as well as his exceptional campaigning across the Atlantic and elsewhere.”

“He fully deserves the accolade of Champion Trainer and now joins the greats of the sport. We couldn’t be happier for him and his whole team.”