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  • Writer's pictureJo O'Neill

An Interview with Michael Appleby, Racehorse Trainer

Michael ‘Mick’ Appleby did not have a horsey childhood. Mick’s Grandfather took him along to their local tracks of Pontefract and Doncaster, where he always found his betting choices profitable. Being a small lad, it was Mick’s Grandfather who suggested he learnt to ride and eventually became a conditional jockey.

Originally from Barnsley, Mick, 51, gained a lot of experience by working within racing in different roles. For three years, he was stable jockey to legendary Johnny Manners and rode many winners. He worked as head lad for Roger Curtis and Andrew Balding before starting to train under his own name. In 2005, his first winner was Dundonald at Wolverhampton.

Over the next few seasons, he had early successes with The Lockmaster, Stellar Express and Art Scholar, who landed the November Handicap. Since then, he’s had many stars, including Big Country and sprinter Danzenohe, tallying up over 850 winners. This month, he was crowned Champion All-Weather Trainer for the sixth time, and for the fifth consecutive year - the clear runaway winner and a tremdous feat.

Big Country's win at Redcar

Mick has settled in Oakham, Rutland with his husband Johnathon Clayton-Appleby, where he's built brilliant facilities, including state-of-the-art gallops. Mick is humble and straight-talking, highlighted when stating, in that strong Yorkshire accent, that his personal achievement is simply ‘training a hundred horses’. He’s also a good friend and a good boss, and very talented at training racehorses.

What have been the best horses that you’ve trained?

In the past, Big Country – and now Edraak and United Front. Annaf is an improving youngster.

What attracted you to start training on the Flat rather than over Jumps?

Get less injuries.

What do you love about the All-Weather?

You know what you’re racing on, it’s always consistent going.

Favourite racecourse in the UK?

Nottingham, it’s a local course and we do very well there.

Favourite racecourse internationally?

Meydan in Dubai.

What’s the best advice you were given about training?

Keep horses happy – every horse should be a happy horse.

Who’s your racing hero?

Johnny Manners

Favourite drink: Diet coke.

Favourite meal: Sunday roast.

Favourite holiday destination: Tenerife

Other hobbies/interests: Golf, darts, pool and socialising with friends.

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