Old Persian secured his first victory at the top level in the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan.
Charlie Appleby’s charge 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 had 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 set him up for an appearance on World Cup night.
With William Buick in the saddle, Old Persian was travelling strongly in behind the pacesetting Rey De Oro rounding the home turn and the gap opened up at the top of the straight.
Once asked to go about his business, Old Persian quickened up smartly and had enough in reserve to hold Japanese raiders Cheval Grand and Suave Richard at bay comfortably.
Buick, winning the Sheema Classic for a record fourth time, said: “That was fantastic. All my Sheema Classic wins have been very special and this was right up there. It’s great when it comes off.
“Christophe (Lemaire, on Rey De Oro) slackened the pace a bit and I was trapped rounding the bend. I managed to get out and the horse showed what a good turn of foot he’s got at the end of a race like that.
“It was a beautiful performance from him.”
Buick and Appleby were completing a treble on the night following the previous triumphs of Cross Counter in the Dubai Gold Cup and Blue Point in the Al Quoz Sprint.
Buick added: “We have come here thinking we had very good chances, but at a huge international event like this you always have to give a lot of respect to some of them, and especially the Japanese runners.”
Appleby said: “William made a concerted move on the turn to make sure he got out and I thought it was a fantastic ride.
“I’m not sure where this horse will go, but thinking long-term, we may have ParisLongchamp on our minds (Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe).”
Aidan O’Brien, who claimed this prize with St Nicholas Abbey in 2013, saddled last season’s Ribblesdale Stakes heroine Magic Wand and Hunting Horn in a bid to secure a second win.
However, neither could pick up from the final turn and, in the end, Hunting Horn narrowly beat his better-fancied stablemate to fourth place.