Appleby refusing to give up on Masar after Derby hero flops again

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Masar may be down, but he’s not out.

That was the feeling emanating from Charlie Appleby, who is refusing to give up on last year’s Derby winner after he finished last of six in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket, five and a half lengths behind winner Communique.

The Godolphin-owned four-year-old was in peak condition prior to the race according to Appleby, and the trainer indicated a drop back to 1m2f could be key to the son of New Approach returning to form.

“The piece of work he did last week was every bit as good as we have seen from him,” said Appleby. “He looks well, he’s working well and it’s just the way it panned out. He’s still got plenty of gas in him. We’ll just have to try and get him back on track.”

Referring to future plans, he added: “We’ve spoken about dropping him back to ten furlongs to allow him to get into a better rhythm where they’re just going a stride quicker for him. The York Stakes would have been a nice race for him.”

Despite Appleby retaining faith in the Classic winner, the decision on Masar’s racing future is one which will be decided by Godolphin supremo Sheikh Mohammed.

Appleby said: “The question we need to ask is whether we keep him in training or not? That’s a question for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed as to whether he’d like another crack or not. To be honest with you, I’m going to sit on the fence.”

The loss means that Harzand remains the last Derby winner to win another race, despite three others succeeding since the 2016 victor.

Wings Of Eagles sprung a shock 40-1 success in 2017 and finished third in the Irish Derby before retiring, while this year’s winner Anthony Van Dyck was beaten in the same race by Sovereign.

It has been a tough road back for Masar, who after his Epsom heroics sustained a leg injury that would rule him out for the rest of the season.

He returned more than a year later in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, where a stumbled start resulted in him finishing fifth behind Defoe, before failing to fire on day one of the July meeting.