Cirrus keeps Abbey at bay in Sheema Classic
Report: UAE, Saturday
Meydan: Dubai Sheema Classic Presented By Longines (Group 1) turf, 1m4f, 4yo+
CIRRUS DES AIGLES added another richly endowed Group 1 to hisimpressive haul with a gutsy victory in the Sheema Classic.
Olivier Peslier had to be at the top of his game to keep the Corine Barande-Barbe-trained six-year-old up to his task on the far-side rail as Joseph O'Brien sliced through the pack to lay down a sustained challenge on St Nicholas Abbey.
On his first ride on the 11-4 winner, Peslier rode a tactically astute race at the sharp end of affairs, committing his mount early before holding off the fast-finishing Ballydoyle hope by a neck.
"The trainer said the horse was very tough and as long as you ask him, he's always very competitive," said the jockey. "I'm very happy forthe horse, very happy for the team and for the jockey who rode him before."
Having netted nearly £750,000 for connections when winning the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot, Cirrus Des Aigles bagged just shy of £2 million here to take his career earnings past the £3.5 million mark.
Olivier Peslier: great tactical ridePICTURE: Mark Cranham
His Ascot victory was overshadowed by the controversial whip ban given to his jockey Christophe Soumillon, but connections were left to celebrate this time.
Barande-Barbe added: "If a horse comes from behind it pushes him. It is a big emotion [for me]. I was very happy - with him he always comes better and better. It is just like a dream that never stops. He really likes very, very big racecourses."
Aidan O'Brien was happy with runner-up St Nicholas Abbey and fourth-placed Treasure Beach.
"I was delighted with them, they ran two great races for their first run of the season, great runs," he said. "The winner is a very good horse - and she does a great job with him."
The Marco Botti-trained Jakkalberry fared best of the British contenders to complete the placings in third at 33-1 and earn a crack at another big target.
"The plan would be eventually the Melbourne Cup, he is qualified for it and he will get in," said Botti.
The step up the Group 1 level caught out Beaten Up on the fourth start of his career as the four-year-old suffered the first defeat.
His trainer William Haggas said: "He was not good enough today but I very much hope there will be other days. The slow gallop doesn't help."