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Appleby hoping Barney Roy can add another chapter to unusual story

15 Jun 2020

Charlie Appleby believes Barney Roy will relish stepping back up in distance in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot on Wednesday.

Barney Roy

The six-year-old, owned by Godolphin, features among a final field of seven or the mile-and-a-quarter showpiece, which forms part of the 35-race QIPCO British Champions Series. If successful, he will be the oldest winner since Muhtarram, in 1995, and one of the most unusual in Royal Ascot’s rich history given his background.

Barney Roy won the St James’s Palace Stakes at the Royal Meeting in 2017, when trained by Richard Hannon, and was subsequently runner-up in the Coral-Eclipse, when beaten a nose by Ulysses, before finishing third behind the same horse in the Juddmonte International at York.

He was retired to stud at the end of that year but fertility issues curtailed his career as a stallion and, after being gelded, he was returned to training with Appleby. He has since won three of his five races and on his latest start he won the Group 1 Jebel Hatta, sponsored by Emirates Airline, in impressive style at Meydan.

Appleby said: “His previous two starts this year were over nine furlongs in Dubai but I’ve always felt that stepping him up in trip would bring about more improvement.

“I know he’s been over the trip before, in the Eclipse and Juddmonte International, but for me he’s an older and stronger horse than he was then. On the back of his runs this year, I think he goes there in good shape and we are looking forward to going back to Ascot with him, where we know he’s been a past winner at the Royal Meeting.”

Barney Roy failed to make an impact in last year’s Queen Anne Stakes, when favourite, but Appleby says there were mitigating circumstances.

“He had two quickish runs beforehand having had a long lay-off and been to stud,” he said. “That wasn’t ideal and, at Group 1 level, he also ran as if he needed to step up in trip. We put him away for the rest of the year with Dubai very much his target and I couldn’t have been more pleased with his two starts out there this year. Unfortunately, there was no Dubai Turf for him [the race scheduled for the end of March was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic] and after that the plan always to come to the Prince of Wales’s.

“He’s not a horse who needs a lot of training and it’s obvious he goes well fresh. He’s in good order.”

Appleby and Godolphin also had the option of running their star performer Ghaiyyath, impressive all-the-way winner of the Coronation Cup at Newmarket this month, but he will instead run next in the Coral-Eclipse, another QIPCO British Champions Series race, at Sandown next month. He is set for an absorbing clash with ten-time Group 1 winner Enable in that race.

“We’ve had a bit of friendly banter with John Gosden [the trainer of Enable] about that,” Appleby said with a smile. “Whether I’ve done the right thing or not, we will see.”

Gosden trained two-time Prince of Wales’s Stakes winner Muhtarram and also hit the target with The Fugue in 2014. On Wednesday, he will rely on Mehdaayih, runner-up in the Qatar Nassau Stakes last year, plus Lord North, who continued his climb up the ranks with a reappearance win in the Betway Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Haydock this month.

Aidan O’Brien is seeking a fourth Prince of Wales’s Stakes triumph and he will rely on Japan. He won the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot 12 months ago before gaining Group 1 victories in the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris, at Longchamp, and Juddmonte International Stakes. On his final start of the year he finished fourth to Waldgeist in the Qatar Prix De l’Arc de Triomphe.

Bangkok will fly the flag for Andrew Balding, while Addeybb, a two-time Group 1 winner in Australia this year, has been declared by William Haggas. Addeybb’s exploits last year included finishing runner-up to Magical in the QIPCO Champion Stakes on QIPCO British Champions Day.

The field is completed by the Roger Charlton-trained Headman. A dual Group 2 winner in France last year, his connections toyed with the idea of running him in Tuesday’s Queen Anne Stakes but have opted for the longer race.

All races at Royal Ascot this week will be run behind closed doors with strict protocols in place.