Appleby: this could be make or break for the Gold Town Kentucky Derby plan

Gold Town and William Buick winning the Guineas Trial at Meydan in January. “There is no doubt he is a better horse on this dirt surface,” says Charlie Appleby. Photo: Dubai Racing Club

Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby is looking to Gold Town to fulfil a lifetime ambition and provide him with Dubai World Cup night win in the $2 million UAE Derby.

British-born Appleby is entering his fifth full year as trainer to  Sheikh Mohammed’s operation but has yet to saddle a winner on this dazzling global stage. He came closest when Ahtoug was beaten a neck in the Al Quoz Sprint of 2014 and Gold Town holds leading claims in the UAE Derby after two runaway wins at the Dubai Carnival.

“I have spoken to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed about the horse and we are all hopeful,” Appleby said. “I am excited and have always been lucky in this position in that I have never had immense pressure put on me and therefore that allows everyone to do their job and make the right decisions.

“I have not had a winner on Dubai World Cup night yet, so that is on my bucket list. I say to all the lads that it is an achievement to get a horse to World Cup night and anything on top is a bonus.”

Gold Town will be trying to go one place better than his father, Street Cry, did in the UAE Derby 17 years ago and heads into Saturday’s race after stunning victories in the Guineas Trial and the G3 UAE 2000 Guineas.

“What we have all seen out here has visually been very impressive,” Appleby said. “We were hopeful that he would do what he has, given he is by Street Cry, and we have had this as our target from a long way out. It doesn’t always work out, but so far he has done everything that has been asked of him.

“He ticks a lot of boxes – he has home advantage, he has had two runs on the surface and is a Guineas Trial and a Guineas winner but is taking on a different calibre of horse this time. This is going to be a big step up for him but he goes into it in great order.”

Street Cry went on to land a Dubai World Cup the year after finishing second in the UAE Derby, and Appleby is plotting for Gold Town to be back in 2019.

“There is no doubt he is a better horse on this dirt surface,” the trainer said. “He is by Street Cry, and my own personal view is they like a nice flat track, the undulations in Europe don’t suit them, so there is no point running on a track that doesn’t suit.

“Even if he doesn’t go to America, he will stay on dirt and come back here next year for the Maktoum Challenges, and we will see where we go.”

The American trip Appleby refers to is a possible run in the Kentucky Derby, and he added, “Everyone is asking if we are going to go to the Kentucky Derby, but everyone will find out what we are doing at the same time I do. It’s a point-based entry system, so he needs the points [the UAE Derby winner will get 100 points - a guaranteed berth - in the Run for the Roses] but he needs to go and win on Saturday to justify going. If he wins, he will be going. If he gets beat, he probably won’t.”

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