Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 2 July 2020

Godolphin’s Old Persian targets another top prize in Europe

Charlie Appleby-trained son of Dubawi to fight it out at Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in France

Old Persian won the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic on Dubai World Cup Night in 2019. Pawan Singh / The National
Old Persian won the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic on Dubai World Cup Night in 2019. Pawan Singh / The National

After winning two Group 1 prizes across two continents, Godolphin’s globe-trotting Old Persian bids for another top prize in Europe, the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in France on Sunday.

The Charlie Appleby-trained five year old son of Dubawi was successful in the Dubai Sheema Classic at the Dubai World Cup meeting at Meydan and then followed it up with victory in the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes in Canada during a busy 2019 campaign.

He was unplaced in the Group 1 Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita, USA, in his last start in November and travelled back to Dubai for his title defence of the Sheema Classic.

However, the Dubai World Cup meeting that was to be held on March 28 was cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Old Persian enjoyed a nice winter off out in Dubai after doing a lot of travelling last year,” Appleby told the Godolphin website.

“It was a disappointing run at the Breeders’ Cup but it came at the end of a long season and the way the race panned out didn’t suit him.

“He has been freshened up for hopefully a nice European campaign over the summer and we have been pleased with his preparation. If he brings his A game, he will be very competitive.”

Aiming for another top prize earlier in the day for Godolphin is Masato Nishizono’s African Gold, in the Takarazuka Kinen over 11 furlongs at the Hanshin racecourse in Japan.

Harry Sweeney, president of Godolphin in Japan, is hopeful but not confident of the five-year-old Stay Gold gelding.

“It is a really big ask for African Gold in the Group 1 Takarazuka Kinen,” he said. “His best run in a 17-race career to date was third in a Group 2, so it is not really realistic to expect him to feature on Sunday.

“All that been said, in his recent runs in Group races, he has only been three to four lengths off the winner and has never been disgraced.

“He has previously won in Hanshin over 12 furlongs but it is our opinion that he may be better suited by a slightly shorter trip, so we feel that the 11-furlong distance will be ideal.

“His best runs have all been on firm ground and we would like similar on Sunday but, as it is the rainy season, that is in no way guaranteed.”

Meanwhile, Godolphin’s Derby hope Military March suffered a training setback and will not be entered in the race on July 4.

“Military March has had a setback and unfortunately will have to miss the Derby next week,” his handler Saeed bin Suroor said of the 2000 Guineas fourth.

“We will give him plenty of time and hopefully he will be back racing later in the season.”

Updated: June 27, 2020 03:26 PM

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