Mick Appleby has always known where his passion lies. Working with horses
With nearly three decades of experience and knowledge, his success has come from hard work, dedication, and knowing how to get the best out of every horse.
Born in the North of England in a little town called Barnsley in South Yorkshire, Appleby learned his passion for horses and racing from his grandfather, as he told us.
"I got into racing through my grandparents, specifically my grandfather.He didn’t work in racing, but he liked to gamble on it, and I used to watch racing on TV with him.
"Personally, I got the bug from there.
"Sadly, he is no longer with us, having passed away about 20 years ago. But I’m sure he’s up there somewhere, looking down on me.
The Early Years: Many Chapters and Quite a Few Twists
Beginning as a stable jockey for John Manners, he would ride numerous winners over a three-year period before he left to become head lad for Roger Curtis.
Appleby admits he always knew he wanted to be a trainer, even during his time as a hooper.
"I mean, I was a jump jockey—a very bad jump jockey—and I didn’t ride many winners," he said.
In 2008, he was offered the fantastic opportunity to become head lad at Andrew Blading’s Kingsclere Stables, where he worked with top-class horses, gaining much experience in all aspects of training racehorses.
"In a few yards, I went from being a jockey to being head lad, learning different things from different trainers before I finally sort of setup training by myself."
In June 2010, Appleby decided to go out on his own for the remainder of that season, seeing three winners and further placings after making the decision.
The following year, he built on his success from the 2011 season with 20 winners and numerous placed horses.
The Appleby team won the November Handicap with their horses Louchantanks, The Lockmaster, Stellar Express, Demora, and Art Scholar over the next two seasons.
Appleby trained Danzeno to win the Group 3 Chip Chase at Newcastle in 2014, and he also trained 91 other winners that year.
As a head trainer, he has forged a reputation for preparing great types that know how to excite when racing and was crowned the Champion Trainer at Southwell in 2014 and 2015.
Other training achievements include preparing Bancnuanaheireann, who went on to break the track record at Chelmsford, and Lockmaster, who won his 100th race and now has 15 wins to his name.
Appleby points to another success as his greatest highlight to date, however.
"I think the most important day of my training career and the race that got me the most noticed was winning the November Handicap at Doncaster with a horse called Art Scholar.
"I paid five hundred pounds for him, and he went on to win that Group One for us before we took him out to Dubai to race for us."
"I think he was the horse that really got me noticed as a trainer."
"Danzeno would have been second on the list, and with him giving us our first Group winner, it meant a lot to us."
Since then, the Mick Appleby stable has gone from strength to strength, progressing according to plan, as he said.
"We had our 1,000th career win this year, and we had the 100th win for the season on the same day with the same horse.
"The past three seasons, we have had 100 winners."
Moving with the Times
Having been involved in the industry for several decades, Appleby is well aware of the advancements in the industry when it comes to technology, and for him, the plan is fairly plain and simple.
"I have a really great secretary," he jokes.
"But seriously, you must move with the times, and if you have people around you to help with that, it goes a long way.
"Technology is playing such a big part in technology, and we are coping quite well." My assistant, Johnny, is very good. He is currently doing his training modules at Newmarket as we speak.
When the horseman is asked what is next for the season, he responds that it does not all come down to figures for him at this point in his training career.
"I think I would rather just try and start getting a better class of horses and try to concentrate on class rather than quantity."
"When we look at races for low handicappers, the prize money in the UK for the lower classes isn't that great, so I think we're better off focusing on class now and training horses of that calibre for higher level races."
"Try and get some horses that can run in group races that we can take abroad and take to Dubai."
All Aboard for the Trip Back to Dubai
He now returns to the UAE with a team of four hopefuls looking to target races and spoils across the carnival in Raasel, Edraak, Ayr Harbour, and the United Front.
Raasel is a six-year-old showcasing gelding from the stable with a winning record of nine wins and four placings from 18 starts.
"He was bought for 10,000 pounds." He has turned out to be a real success story for us.
He is the horse that Appleby believes could race in Qatar, especially with the recent rise in prize money.
"He could possibly go there, and he is the best of the bunch, so it is possible."
"He has just gotten better and better and still has a lot of improvement to come from him."
"The plan is to run him in a listed race in the next few weeks and see where we can put him depending on the five-furlong races available."
"If we were to push him up to six furlongs, I think Dubai is the best place to get that from him."
"If he were to go well over the six-furlong distance, we could look at running him in the Gold Cup on World Cup night."
Edraak is a 7-year-old gelded son of Elzaam and has shown that he still has plenty left for the track this season. From 19 starts, he has five victories and eight placings.
"He is a very nice horse who keeps improving for us. We are probably going to pop an entry in for him for the Group 2 in the first meeting.
"We will more than likely wait for the handicap during the third meeting for him—I think we are more likely to go for that."
Ayr Harbour has had the most starts from the four, with the 6YO Harbour Watch x Sorella Bella gelding racing 31 times and winning on five of those outings.
"He will be into the seven-furlong and mile handicaps on the dirt. He was very good on the old fibre surfaces at Sivel, which is the closest thing we have to dirt.
"He did very well on that surface so hoping he will take to the dirt very well."
United Front is the youngest of the travelling brigade at five years old but has 34 race starts to his name. He has not won this year since December 2021 but took honours four times that year.
"He will also run on the dirt." He is a very good all-weather track horse, and he performs a lot better on that surface than on grass. We will campaign for him for a mile to a mile and a half. "If we bring him and he does well on the dirt, he may also get a run in a listed race as well."
Appleby’s four-member stable arrived in Dubai last week and will be getting ready to step out.
"They all flew well and have settled in well."
Appleby has a stable of ninety in the UK, so he looks to join his runners in Dubai in a week’s time, ready for the meeting on January 13.
He also currently has King of Stars in Bahrain who races there on the same night his other runners line up on the 13th.
The 6-year-old gelding has two races in Bahrain before he goes back to the UK. If he went to Dubai, he would race against his stablemate Raasel, which is something Appleby wants to avoid.
This year’s Carnival marks the tenth that Appleby has had horses entered, and his mission is clear once again.
"I’ve been coming for a long time and still to get a winner.
"Raasel is the best horse we have brought over, so hopefully he can get that first win for us there."