Charlie Appleby insists unbeaten Naval Power is “one of the horses to beat” when the colt bids to enhance his Classic credentials in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.
Speaking at a media event organised by The Jockey Club at Dalham Hall Stud this morning, the reigning champion trainer believes the Teofilo two year old has got a “great profile” going into the seven furlong Group One contest, for which he is the general 3-1 second favourite.
Despite not possessing the same level of form as Appleby’s previous two winners - Native Trail (2021) and Pinatubo (2019) - the Newmarket trainer believes now is the right time to step Naval Power up to Group race company if he is to be a Classic contender.
Appleby said: “We are sporting Naval Power in the Dewhurst who is an unbeaten son of Teofilo. Teofilo has been there and done it for himself and his progeny are doing it as well and to have a horse like Naval Power is very exciting.
“He has got a great profile going into the race and I feel he won’t look out of place that is for sure and is one of the horses they are going to have to beat.
“He has done everything we have asked of him and in some ways we haven’t asked him as he has naturally brought it to the table and that is why he is going into this weekend as a worthy second favourite on what he has achieved.
“As you have seen he is a different horse to the likes of Pinatubo and on pedigree he is different. This is very much a horse that is a three year old.
“Pinatubo and Native Trail they were solid campaign two year olds that went in with solid Group One juvenile form behind them.
“This horse has, I feel, been nurtured to a level with very much a three year old middle distance pedigree on him so I’ve not wanted to put him to the sword by taking on the sharper individuals earlier in the season.
“This is his time to go up on the top table and prove himself to be worthy of racing at that level and putting himself into a Classic picture for next season.”
Although one of the picks of Appleby’s two year old team he admits that Naval Power’s accomplishments this season since making a winning debut at Yarmouth back in May have been something of a surprise, given his pedigree.
Appleby said: “He is a horse that when you stand him off as a physical you are getting excited about a three year old career.
“He is wanting to do it so it is like anybody with that enthusiasm - you don’t try and take it back, you let them go forward with it and that is what he is doing. Each run we have offered up to him he has gone there and done and in a fashion that has surprised us.
“He is a nice work horse in the mornings and does nothing wrong and does everything that has been asked of him and he puts himself out there in the mornings.
“For us when we first got excited is when we went to Ascot for the Pat Eddery Stakes. We were confident we were going there to win but in the style he did it and the way he galloped out that day it is time to start working back from some of these autumn targets.”
While Naval Power is yet to encounter the Rowley Mile, the Godolphin handler believes he will have no problems dealing with the contours of the track along with the drop back in trip, having scored over a mile last time out at Haydock Park.
He added: “What he takes into the race is he is a four from four colt that has travelled. He has been left-handed and right-handed.
“He has not encountered the famous Dip at Newmarket, which we all like to use as an excuse if we get beaten, but they have all got to get through it and good horses will always do it.
“He is a very well balanced horse and he takes experience into the race and experience at a nice level with his last two starts being at Listed level.
“I don’t think anything will get him out of his comfort zone and there are sharper horses on pedigree in there we know, but when you hit that rising ground you want to be able to see that seven furlongs out strong.
“Wherever he is sat in the race I will be confident that when he hits the rising ground stamina will come into play over seven furlongs and he has an abundance of it.”
It promises to be a busy day for Appleby on Saturday and he could saddle both Silver Knott and Local Dynasty in the Emirates Autumn Stakes and Flying Honours in the Godolphin Flying Start Zetland Stakes.
He said: “Silver Knott is a horse we were contemplating whether to run in the Autumn Stakes as we have also got him on the radar as a horse for the Breeders’ Cup.
“People might say he was a bit disappointing on his last start but conditions I felt weren’t there to suit him in the Champagne Stakes (at Doncaster) as the ground had turned on the slow side that day.
“He has come out the race very well and he has won the Solario so he takes a nice level of form into something like the Autumn Stakes, plus stepping up in trip will suit him on his pedigree. He is probably one we will look at.
“We have Local Dynasty who was an impressive winner on his last start. To be fair to the horse in the Acomb it was probably trainer error that we ended up going there.
“He broke his maiden and we felt it was a nice race to step forward to but mentally he wasn’t ready for a race like that and it duly showed on the day.
“He came out of the race in nice shape and we went back to a novice to gain our confidence with him and he won very impressively on slow ground at Sandown. He is a horse that has got natural pace so will be looked upon as an Autumn Stakes horse.
“Flying Honour was very impressive winning his maiden then went on to win at Listed level impressively as well. It was a disappointing run (Royal Lodge) but for me it was a very messy race at Newmarket that day.
“We wanted him to do it the right way round but unfortunately no one went forward and it ended up being a dash to the finish and needless to say a Sea The Stars colt out of one of the great home-bred mares wasn’t going to be suited to a sprint.
“He has come out of the race well and he is a horse that we will probably most likely look at being a Zetland type horse on Saturday.”
Elsewhere on the card Royal Fleet will bid to set up a trip to Bahrain by completing a hat-trick of victories for the season in the concluding Group Three Darley Masar Stakes.
He added: “The Darley Stakes is a great race - it is a win and you’re in to Bahrain now so it is a great springboard to some of these horses. That (Bahrain), is potentially one of his future targets if we are lucky enough to win on Saturday.
“He won his re-appearance this year at Goodwood at Listed level carrying a penalty and he goes into the race in great order. The priority would be for Royal Fleet and hopefully that will springboard him onto a trip to Bahrain.”
On Friday Appleby is considering running First Ruler, Cosmic Desert and Wild Crusade in the Old Rowley Cup - 12 months after securing the mile and a half prize with Siskany.
He said: “First Ruler will be first preference on the list. Back on a sounder surface will help and he has done well physically since Ascot. He went there to go and win his race and he was run down by a good horse from William Haggas that was receiving a lot of weight from us.
“Wild Crusade was a bit disappointing last time but he didn’t stay the mile six at York so we are confident coming back to a mile and a half.
“He never got into a rhythm and the ground had gone at Ascot last time so you can put a line through that.
“Cosmic Desert is in there off a light weight stepping up in trip but he has got a bit to find.”
Creative Flair failed to beat a rival in a Grade One contest at Saratoga when last sighted but Appleby hopes she can return to form by signing off her career on a winning note in the Newmarket Pony Academy Pride Stakes.
He said: “We’ve not seen her since America and this has always been our long term target for her.
“The sectionals caught us out in America but they went some lick and it was quicker than she had ever been and by the time she turned in she was punch drunk.
“It will be her last run to be fair and her preparations have gone well. She is a player in that for sure.”