Power of Appleby and his Godolphin team becoming clear

Trainer will have a clean sweep of Europe’s major 2,000 Guineas prizes in his sights

Godolphin and trainer Charlie Appleby will have a clean sweep of Europe's major 2, 000 Guineas prizes in their sights at the Curragh this Saturday.

Following Coroebus's success at Newmarket just over a fortnight ago, Modern Games landed the Emirates Poule D'Essai des Poulains at Longchamp with some authority under jockey William Buick on Sunday.

The 7-4 favourite hadn't run since scoring at the Breeders' Cup in November but made light of the lengthy absence to run out a ready winner from a 66-1 outsider, Texas.

Aidan O'Brien's hope The Acropolis failed to land a blow in the mile colt's classic while the Irish trainer's Toy was also out of the money in the French 1, 000 Guineas.


That was won by the local filly Mangoustine, who had a head to spare over the Newmarket Guineas heroine Cachet in a tight finish.

It could emerge as something of a Classic swan song for Mangoustine's veteran jockey, Gerald Mosse.

The 55-year-old French man has indicated he will begin training in 2023, although almost 40 years after starting a stellar riding career Mosse proved his credentials in the saddle once again at the top level.

In contrast the burgeoning power of Appleby and his Godolphin team is becoming ever more apparent with almost each new big race.

Having broken his Irish classic duck with Hurricane Lane in the Derby at the Curragh last year, he secured a maiden French classic victory through Modern Games.

With the English and French Guineas under his belt, the focus turns to Saturday’s Tattersalls-sponsored Irish version for which Native Trail, runner-up to Coroebus at Newmarket, is an odds-on favourite.

Godolphin last won the first classic of the Irish season with Dubawi in 2005, and that horse has become the foundation of the Sheikh Mohammed operation’s remarkable resurgence in recent years.

Having dominated the Derby picture in 2021, the famous blue colours are now carrying all before them in the 2022 Guineas campaign.

It has been two decades since Aidan O’Brien pulled off the Guineas hat-trick with Rock of Gibraltar at both Newmarket and the Curragh while the ill-fated Landseer emerged on top at Longchamp.

Now Appleby looks on the verge of doing the same and with the three different colts.

“We’re very spoilt with the three colts that we have in Coroebus, Native Trail and Modern Games.

“It would be nice to keep them apart for as long as we can. Eventually they might end up having to lock horses. But it’s nice to be able to have them to plan with,” the English man said with some understatement after Modern Games success.

Out of trouble

The son of Dubawi was out of trouble towards the front of a rough 15-runner race and readily picked up Texas inside the final furlong.

Coroebus is being kept in reserve for Royal Ascot and while Native Trail will try to secure his own classic success at the Curragh, Modern Games is next likely to attempt a double secured by O'Brien's St Mark's Basilica last year.

“He’s so game and honest, [the French Derby] is definitely worth a crack with him,” Appleby reported.

It’s a view Buick agreed with. The jockey said: “In the [Prix du] Jockey Club you need a lot of tactical pace. It can sometimes be a difficult race and I think he ticks a lot of boxes.

“He’s a true professional. He really is a joy to ride and a joy to be around. He takes everything in his stride. He’s a very good horse and he makes life for his jockey very easy.”

Modern Games is a 2-1 favourite for the French Derby with some layers.

Native Trial, last season's champion juvenile, lost his unbeaten record at Newmarket but is as low as 2-5 in some ante-post lists for the Irish Guineas, where O'Brien looks like he might struggle for potential challengers.

Ivy League, runner-up in the Amethyst Stakes last time, could be supplemented as O'Brien chases an 11th win in a classic he hasn't won since Churchill in 2017.

Tuesday, third to Cachet in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket, disputes favouritism with Dermot Weld's Homeless Songs for Sunday's fillies classic at the Curragh.

However, there will be no quick turnaround for Sunday’s heroine, Mangoustine, who will be aimed at Royal Ascot’s Coronation Stakes.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column