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Six winners for Appleby

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Blue Point may have been unable to live up to his favourite tag in the July Cup, but it was still a positive Darley July Festival for Newmarket’s Charlie Appleby.

IMPRESSIVE VICTORY: Quorto could be a 2000 Guineas contenders after his win on Saturday
IMPRESSIVE VICTORY: Quorto could be a 2000 Guineas contenders after his win on Saturday

The Moulton Paddocks trainer had high hopes for his King’s Stand Stakes winners in Saturday’s showpiece contest at the July Course, but the step up to six furlongs proved to be beyond the son of Shamardal, who now looks set to drop back down to the minimum trip.

However, in-form Appleby still had six winners to celebrate over the three-day event, spearheaded by the impressive Quorto in the bet365 Superlative Stakes.

It was a performance that caught the eye of the bookmakers, the majority of whom slashed the two-year-old’s odds to 12/1 to win next year’s QIPCO 2000 Guineas.

Appleby said: “We were confident today that he had come forward and the step up in trip was going to suit him.

“Being by Dubawi, I think we’ll see more improvement as time goes on.

“The National Stakes at the Curragh looks his most likely target now, seven furlongs looks to be his trip for now, and a mile next year.”

Appleby’s impressive festival return kicked off on Thursday with Lover’s Knot continuing Godolphin’s dominance of the British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stakes.

Friday provided a double, courtesy of Al Hilalee and Hamada in the Weatherbys British EBF Maiden Stakes and Gordon’s Handicap respectively.

Following the latter’s triumph, Appleby revealed a Melbourne Cup assault could be on the cards.

“He is in the Ebor but we will see what the handicapper does.

“It is likely he will have one more run here then head down to Australia.

“We will start a campaign down there with the Melbourne Cup in mind.

It got even better for Appleby on Saturday with a hat-trick as Quorto got the ball rolling before First Contact bounced back from a disappointing outing in the Britannia Stakes at Ascot to win the bet365 Mile Handicap Stakes.

“He was slow from the gates in the Britannia and found himself out of his ground,” said Appleby.

“We felt there was no pace (in the Mile Handicap) so we wanted to keep it simple, but it was a good performance under top weight.

“He could make up into a Dubai Carnival horse in time.”

Ashley-based jockey James Doyle was in the saddle for First Contact’s win and he made it a swift double by riding Appleby’s Poetic Charm to victory in the Spa At Bedford Lodge Hotel British EBF Fillies’ Handicap.

“We are delighted with that,” said Appleby.

“We fancied her going into the Sandringham, a little bit like First Contact, but we were probably trying to be a little bit too clever with them by looking after them going into Ascot, but this filly just genuinely came forward from the Ascot run and I was much more confident that she was where she needed to be today.

“James gave her a lovely ride and he says she wants to stay at around this sort of trip for now.”