CHARLIE APPLEBY AND BLUE POINT
At the end of a pulsating finish to the final Group 1 of Royal Ascot 2019 Blue Point completed the double.
Such was the race’s nerve-racking crescendo, Charlie Appleby would have been excused had he immediately poured himself a treble.
It was mighty close, only a head separating the winner from the charging Dream Of Dreams, yet the final winning distance did nothing to diminish the remarkable achievement of Blue Point, a magnificent sprinter and now indisputably a Godolphin great.
What he does from hereon in is largely irrelevant. The gorgeous son of Shamardal will be forever remembered for what he did this week, not once but twice energised by getting the chance to show his brilliance at the royal racecourse he plainly adores.
When listening to the words of an emotional Appleby, it was obvious he adores Blue Point every bit as much as Blue Point adores Ascot.
On Tuesday he had mastered Battaash in the King’s Stand Stakes, just as he had 12 months earlier. This time, however, Appleby was keen to unleash Blue Point for a second time and Sheikh Mohammed approved.
In emulating Australian monster Choisir by following up in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, Blue Point once again hammered home that the Godolphin founder has the right man in charge at Moulton Paddocks.
For while Appleby heaped praise on his boss, Sheikh Mohammed was keen for the plaudits to fall on Appleby, whose three daughters – Emily, Erin and Edith – have their own special bond with Blue Point and came with their father to see the five-year-old produce the defining moment of his racing career under James Doyle.
It would not be the biggest shock in the world if that career was stopped following this famous triumph, given that when in Europe Blue Point has performed better at Ascot than anywhere else and there is only one more opportunity to run him at the track, much later in the year on Qipco British Champions Day.
It would be marvellous if we do get to enjoy him again. If we do not, Blue Point deserves our thanks for the enjoyment he provided this week.
“He’s been with us since he was two, and he’s been phenomenal, but we’ve always known it’s when he comes to Ascot that he really brings his A-game,” said Appleby.
“I got a bit too excited too soon today. The way he travelled and picked up I thought he’d put it to bed. Through the last 50 yards I was holding my breath.”
Those who had backed the 6-4 favourite were holding their breath as well. Kachy scorched the drying Ascot turf for much of the contest, setting a searing gallop that Blue Point followed with relish. Doyle was still sitting with a double handful approaching the final furlong, and although his mount soon went clear, the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Dream Of Dreams ate up ground close home and was in front two strides past the line.
“Kachy went a hell of a clip and because Blue Point is so genuine he was trying to run him down earlier than was ideal,” said Doyle.
“I was trying to reserve his energy for as long as I could, mindful we were going an extra furlong. When we did get there he got a little bit lonely, but he stuck his neck out. It was a little bit hairy at the finish, but I’ve never met such a tough horse. He’s amazing.”
Doyle expressed disappointment Blue Point’s regular rider William Buick was unable to take the mount. However, Appleby’s sidelined main jockey was here at Ascot and full of praise for horse and trainer.
“It’s a humongous achievement,” said Buick, who missed out on riding at a meeting that has been massive for Danny Tudhope. For the partner of Dream Of Dreams, this was one that got away.
“It was a great run,” said Tudhope. “I rode him last year and he was very keen but he’s a completely different horse now. Hopefully he can land a big one this year.”
The same hope is held by connections of Kachy, whose owner Dave Lowe said: “He’s done us proud again. When I saw him strutting around the paddock I knew the real Kachy was here. We’re so pleased with what he’s done.”
That same sentence could have been spoken by Appleby, who was delighted on Saturday morning to see Blue Point weigh in at 536 kilos, as he had on Tuesday.
“Whether we decide to run him again or not…,” said Appleby, his words trailing off. “For now we’ll just enjoy this moment and let the horse have a rest. I’m not sure how much more he needs to do. From the horse’s point of view, I think he’s hit the peak.
“This was always going to be his last year, win, lose or draw. He’s going to retire this year and he’s a superstar.”
At that exact point Appleby became choked and briefly had to stop talking, as he did later for different reasons when Frankie Dettori butted in to the trainer’s conversation with journalists, telling him: “Stop milking it!” Then they embraced and Dettori left the scene, Appleby calling him “a legend”. You just know he could easily have said the same about Blue Point.
“Blue Point loves my kids and is so good around them,” said Appleby. “They can go up and pat him, which shows the nature of the beast. He has a very kind heart. I know that horse would have enjoyed that as much today as we did.”
Appleby really did enjoy it. He absolutely deserved to as well.
HORSES WHO HAVE COMPLETED THE KING’S STAND/DIAMOND JUBILEE DOUBLE
Prince Charlie (1873)
Hornet’s Beauty (1913)
Blue Point (2019)