The three-year-old Dubawi colt, stepping up in class and trip for trainer Charlie Appleby after scoring over 10 furlongs in the Listed Newmarket Stakes on May 19, tacked across from his wide draw to race in third initially before moving up to second after the first quarter of a mile.
He pressed Raa Atoll for the advantage turning for home, took a narrow lead approaching the two-furlong pole and then went clear under William Buick a furlong from home.
Old Persian bravely saw off challenges of Rostropovich and Giuseppe Garibaldi, galloping on strongly to score by a length and three-quarters in 2m 29.95s on good to firm turf.
Charlie Appleby declared “We had a great team of two-year-olds last year, and I felt they all wintered well and came into the spring in great nick.
“This horse has done nothing but progress through the spring, and we felt this was the right race for him and that stepping up in trip would suit.
“We were confident and I told Will to go forward with Old Persian, and if someone wanted to take the lead, then we would be delighted.
“You saw William make a great manoeuvre after the first two furlongs. He just sat on Frankie’s (Dettori) quarters because we know Frankie on the front end is always dangerous, and when he looked through his legs and had everyone stacked up behind I knew William was in the right place.
“I was so pleased half a mile out with the way Old Persian was travelling and once this horse hit the front I was confident he would see it out well given the pace they had gone. He had shown a turn of foot over a mile and a quarter so I knew what he could do.
“He’s a typical son of Dubawi – he’s improved from two to three and I’m sure he will progress from three to four. We wanted to mind him because we liked him and felt he had the scope to become a good horse.
“It’s still a building stage. Oscar Urbina rides him every day now, but Jen, who led him up, rode him as a two-year-old, but happily held her hands up and said he had become too much for her between two to three, so Oscar popped on and it’s worked out well and produced the horse for today – it’s a real team effort.”
Asked if the final British Classic, the St Leger at Doncaster in September, could figure in Old Persian’s plans, the trainer replied “William said it could be something to keep an eye on, but I’m happy to stay at a mile and a half given the pace he has shown at shorter trips. I’ve put him in the Grand Prix de Paris (G1, 12f, Longchamp, July 14], and that is one for option.
“I am delighted for the whole team. This is what Royal Ascot is all about.”
William Buick reflected: “The pace was slow and I moved up a position halfway down the back, down the hill, just because I knew my horse would benefit from the extra two furlongs.
“Charlie has always said that Old Persian wants a mile and a half and this was his first time over the trip. We hoped he would improve for it and he did.
“I wanted to make sure that stamina came into play, I wanted to be in a position that I could do something about it in the straight. As you could see, his last furlong was his strongest so it is a very, very pleasing performance.
“I had to take it up because he has such a big, lovely stride, and I did not want the race turning into too much of a sprint. He was a willing partner and saw it out well to the line. He is a lovely horse for the future.
“He could be a St Leger horse – obviously Sheikh Mohammed and Charlie will discuss it.”
It may have started with more of a whimper than a bang, but there was no stopping Flat racing’s most fearsome force of Aidan O’Brien, Ryan Moore and Coolmore dominating events at Royal Ascot once again.
Having drawn a blank on the opening day, the powerhouse operation slowly but surely started to fire in the winners, starting with victory for Kew Gardens in the Queen’s Vase on Wednesday.
One winner soon became three with Magic Wand taking the Ribblesdale and Hunting Horn in the Hampton Court 24 hours later, before a last-gasp victory for Australian import Merchant Navy in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes sealed the trio’s respective top trainer, owner and jockey titles on the final day.
O’Brien, celebrating a ninth leading trainer prize, this time on countback from John Gosden and Sir Michael Stoute, said: “We take it one day at a time and one race at a time.
“We had a few winners and a lot of placed horses and a few horses ran disappointing races, but it is tough, competitive racing. I didn’t expect anything else.
“I’m delighted to be here and privileged we were here at the end.”
Asked for highlights, O’Brien said: “I suppose it is hard to get away from the win for Merchant Navy. He is a three-year-old carrying a four-year-old weight.
“He only came just before the Curragh. His coat was changing and he didn’t know if it was winter or summer.
“He was going through a lot of changes himself and in all fairness to him he was healthy enough and sound enough to cope with the changes, and to produce that run was unbelievable.
“When you are in racing you are always grateful to have a winner and you never take anything for granted.
“Really, I’m surprised you win more times than you don’t as there are so many variables you can’t change and the competition is so tough here.
“It is great, the competition, as that is what makes sport great. John Gosden and Sir Michael Stoute are great trainers and really we feel privileged that the lads have horses we can come over and compete with.
“That is what makes the whole week unbelievable. The track was immaculate, the facilities and the atmosphere, it is all unbelievable.
“It is a privilege and a pleasure for me and all the lads and everyone that is involved, as it is a big team effort. I think everyone gets a great kick out of it.”
Four winners may have been enough for O’Brien and Coolmore, but for Moore he required a piece of help from loyal ally Stoute to master Frankie Dettori at the top of the jockeys’ standings, which Crystal Ocean duly provided in the Hardwicke Stakes.
Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby said it had been an easy decision to saddle Wild Illusion with a Royal Ascot engagement in Thursday’s G2 Ribblesdale Stakes only 20 days after the most taxing run of the filly’s career.
The three-year-old daughter of Dubawi finished second to Forever Together in the G1 Investec Oaks at Epsom on Friday, 1 June.
She was beaten four and a half lengths on soft ground, fighting on gamely to the finish.
But Appleby said Wild Illusion had bounced out of the Classic very well.
“She’s in great order. She looks fantastic and she’s training well,” the trainer said.
Wild Illusion chasing Ribblesdale honours for Charlie Appleby - https://t.co/N2pJnZRY2F #horseracing #racingnews #WildIllusion #RibblesdaleStakes #RoyalAscot #CharlieAppleby pic.twitter.com/vUp56D3nGD— GG (@ggcouk) June 20, 2018
“Was it a difficult decision to back her up quickly after Epsom? No, not at all. She’s come out of the race well, and if she can repeat her Oaks performance she will be very hard to beat in the Ribblesdale,” he pointed out.
Wild Illusion is required to carry a G1 penalty of 3lb for her fine victory in the G1 Prix Marcel Boussac at Chantilly as a two-year-old.
Her race record is impressive. She has won twice and never been out of the first four in five starts.
She finished a solid fourth to Billesdon Brook on quick ground in the G1 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket last month.
Appleby does not believe the fast ground is an issue for the filly. “If you go on her fourth in the Guineas at Newmarket, it won’t be a worry. I asked James (Doyle), who rode her that day, and he said she did not feel the ground at all,” he said.
A field of 10 fillies have been declared for the Ribblesdale, first run in 1919 and sometimes referred to as the Ascot Oaks.
Oaks second Wild Illusion confirmed for the Ribblesdale alongside 11 others. These include Perfect Clarity and five from the Aidan O'Brien stable (Sizzling, Sarrocchi, Magic Wand, Broadway & Athena)— Racing Post (@RacingPost) June 15, 2018