Barnsley-born Michael ‘Mick’ Appleby has been involved has been involved in horse racing, in various capacities, for nearly three decades. In his days as a jockey, he was attached to John Manners’ yard in Highworth, Wiltshire and, on his retirement from the saddle, joined Lambourn trainer Roger Curtis as head lad. Appleby subsequently moved to Compton Verney, Warwickshire and, in 1995, took out a public training licence for the first time.
However, his initial stint as a trainer was short-lived, due to financial constraints, and he subsequently became head lad to Andrew Balding at Kingsclere, Hampshire. Nevertheless, Appleby returned to training, in his own right, when appointed by breeder Colin Rogers to become his yard at Braydon Fields Farm, near Royal Wootton Bassett, in 2010. His first runner, Cotswold Village, won at 66/1 and his second, Seneschal, won at 50/1 so, although he saddled just three winners that season, he registered a level stakes profit of 106 points. Appleby improved his seasonal total to 15 winners in 2011, but a disagreement with Rogers led him to head north, to Danethorpe Stables, near Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire and, more recently, to The Homestead, near Oakham, Rutland.
Appleby had saddled 40 winners or more every season since 2012 and, although yet to train a hundred winners in a season, had his most successful campaign ever in 2018, with 94 winners and over £930,000 in win and place prize money. Career highlights include winning the November Handicap at Doncaster in 2012, with Art Scholar, and the Scottish Sprint Cup at Musselburgh and the Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle in 2014, with Demora and Danzeno – his first Pattern race winner – respectively.
Perhaps understandably, in recent years, he has become a specialist at his local track, Southwell and, in 2018/19, was crowned All-Weather Champion Trainer for the third time in four years. Appleby won his first title in 2015/16, having finished second behind his namesake, Charlie Appleby, and Mark Johnson in the previous two seasons. Although only runner-up behind Johnson, again, in 2016/17, his performance was made all the more remarkable by the fact that he relocated his yard in early December.