DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Five races after his Charlie Appleby stablemate Cross Counter took home the Dubai Gold Cup (G2), it was Old Persian‘s turn to triumph, and he did just that in Saturday’s Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) at Meydan Racecourse.
Breaking from post 2 as the 8/5 favorite under William Buick, Old Persian settled in hand along the rail in a close stalking position while first Magic Wand, then Rey de Oro, took turns setting the pace. Old Persian remained patiently ridden along the inside until he hit the top of the stretch, at which point Buick tipped him out to run three-wide, forcing Hunting Horn out of his way in the process. Given the green light once he straightened for home, Old Persian pounced on the lead without being asked, then was kept to task late to hold off the Japanese-bred pair of Cheval Grand and Suave Richard. Old Persian crossed with a 1 1/2-length advantage in a final time of 2:27.17 for the 1 1/2-mile event over the firm turf course.
“He got a lovely trip around and, even when (Rey de Oro) slackened the pace about halfway, we were in a good spot,” Buick said. “It was just a question of getting the splits. I have to give credit to the horse – he finds his own passage and, from (age) 3 to 4, he’s really improved and he has a big turn of foot now. It was a beautiful performance from the horse. Coming here tonight, we knew we had exceptional horses in good shape, but with the international competition, it can sometimes be hard to weigh up. Especially in this race, the Sheema Classic, you had to give respect to the Japanese and to Aidan O’Brien’s horse (Magic Wand). It was a big effort.”
The top trio was well-clear of the rest of the field. Hunting Horn narrowly nabbed his O’Brien stablemate Magic Wand for fourth, while Rey de Oro weakened to sixth. Fellow Godolphin runner Racing History could not keep up off of the far turn and faded to seventh, with Desert Encounter completing the order of finish.
Old Persian’s win was his second straight, having taken the local prep – the Dubai City of Gold (G2) – last out by a nose over Racing History, among others. The 4-year-old Godolphin homebred son of Dubawi improved his record to 13-8-1-1 with $4,196,979 earned.
“It has just been a fantastic night, and I’m so pleased for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and the whole Godolphin team,” said Appleby after he teamed up with Buick to win his third event on the card. “They went a good sensible gallop and William made a sensible move turning for home to make his gap, allowing himself to get the run he needed. I knew the acceleration was there. He’s a class animal, a typical Dubawi who has made that great progression.”
Old Persian returned $5.20 to win, $4 to place, and $2.10 to show. Cheval Grand brought back $8 to place and $7.40 to show, while Suave Richard paid $4.40 to show.