Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 August 2019

Old Persian leads Dubai's charge at Epsom Downs in Royal Oaks

Charlie Appleby-trained Old Persian comes into Friday’s Coronation Cup contention on back of two victories at Meydan

Old Persian won the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic on Dubai World Cup Night three weeks later. Pawan Singh / The National
Old Persian won the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic on Dubai World Cup Night three weeks later. Pawan Singh / The National

Old Persian appears to have the best chance of winning one of the three Group 1 prizes for Godolphin in the two-day English Oaks and Derby meeting at Epsom Downs.

The Charlie Appleby-trained four-year-old son of Dubawi comes into Friday’s Coronation Cup contention under James Doyle on the back of two excellent victories at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.

He won the Group 2 Dubai City Of Gold on Super Saturday, on March 9, and followed it up with an impressive win in the US$6 million (Dh22m) Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic on Dubai World Cup Night three weeks later.

Appleby is confident of Old Persian’s preparation and the good to firm underfoot conditions at the Epsom Racecourse to be perfect for him as he has shown a high level of form on a quick surface.

“He has progressed nicely from three to four, and a performance similar to the one he produced in the Dubai Sheema Classic will make him a major player,” Appleby told the Godolphin.com.

Frankie Dettori riding Lah Ti Dar win The Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Fillies' Stakes at York Racecourse in York last week. Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images
Frankie Dettori riding Lah Ti Dar win The Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Fillies' Stakes at York Racecourse in York last week. Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images

“If anything, we feel that Old Persian might have become quicker this year, and the way he travels through his races suggests that Epsom Downs will play to his strengths.”

Old Persian will have to deal with eight others over the 2,400-metre race over which distance he has been successful in the last two starts.

They include Communique in the silks of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, and Defoe for Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum in what appears to be a competitive field.

The challenge also includes Aidan O’Brien’s Kew Gardens, John Gosden’s Lah Ti Dar, Salouen (Sylvester Kirk), Morando (Andrew Balding) and Marmelo (Hugh Morrison).

Godolphin are conspicuous by their absence in the Oaks an hour and 20 minutes later, but Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid’s Maqsad and Mehdaayih-owned by Dubai businessman Nasser Lootah are likely contenders in the filly’s classic.

Maqsad and Mehdaayih have both won their last two starts with the latter supplemented at a cost of £30,000 (Dh139,000).

Robert Havlin is atop Mehdaavih after stable jockey Frankie Dettori chose Anapurna of the two John Gosden-trained entries.

“It's one of the most high-profile rides I've had, and thanks to the owners for putting their faith in me – Mehdaayih has got to go and do it now,” Havlin, 45, said.

“Her turn of foot is her biggest asset and, if she shows the same change of pace on quick ground as she does on soft, then she'll run a big race in the Oaks.”

Maqsad’s handler William Haggas is bullish of his filly’s chances after her five-length romp in the Listed Pretty Poly Stakes at Newmarket on May 5.

“She’s got a bit of speed and lots of stamina,” he said. “She won easily and when Jim [Crowley] went to go he was surprised how easily he got there.”

In the Derby, Godolphin will be hoping for a major turnaround from Line Of Duty after a dismal reappearance in the Group 2 Dante Stakes.

Line Of Duty could finish only seventh of the eight runners but had previously won thrice on the trot, including the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf over the 1,600m trip at Churchill Downs.

Updated: May 30, 2019 05:45 PM

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