Charlie Appleby is hopeful Old Persian can break his duck at the highest level in the Dubai Sheema Classic.
The Dubawi colt registered four victories during an excellent 2018 campaign – most notably landing the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and narrowly beating subsequent Melbourne Cup-winning stablemate Cross Counter in the Great Voltigeur at York.
He has come up short on his two previous outings in Group One company – disappointing in the Irish Derby and finishing fifth in the St Leger – but a comeback victory over the Sheema Classic course and distance three weeks ago has earned him a return to the top table.
Appleby said: “He did well to win last time. It was a slowly-run race and he showed his bit of class with a change of gear. That was a very nice prep race for this.
“He has done what we expected him to do and come forward – visually it looks like he has done that. That last race will put him spot on. We left a bit to work on last time as we hoped his class would prevail.
“He is a Royal Ascot and Great Voltigeur winner and is a solid Group Two horse. Hopefully with that natural Dubawi progression from three to four, we will see further progress from him.
“He is stepping up into Group One class again, but he deserves one next to his name.”
Old Persian is one of three British-trained runners in an eight-strong field along with Saeed bin Suroor’s Racing History – just a short-head behind the likely favourite earlier this month – and the David Simcock-trained Desert Encounter.
Aidan O’Brien, who claimed this prize with St Nicholas Abbey in 2013, runs top-class filly Magic Wand and Hunting Horn.
Magic Wand was an impressive winner of the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot last summer and was last seen filling the runner-up spot in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational in America.
The line-up is completed by three Japanese raiders in Cheval Grand, Rey De Oro and Suave Richard.