Melbourne Cup hero Cross Counter led home a Godolphin one-two in the Dubai Gold Cup.
The four-year-old, who gave both Charlie Appleby and William Buick their first victories of the night, took his career record to six wins and two second placings from nine races.
The son of Teofilo, who has not raced since his historic success at Flemington in November, drew clear to beat his impressive stablemate Ispolini by a length and a quarter in the third race of the day.
French-trained Call The Wind stayed on over the last 500m to seal third, three lengths off the first two and four lengths ahead of Gold Mount, Hong Kong’s first runner in the race.
Appleby said: “It was his first opportunity to run since Melbourne and he answered all the questions. William (Buick) was put in a bit of a pocket in the race but you’re actually never too worried when you’re working with the nice horses and good jockeys we have.
“I’m delighted with the result, it’s what tonight is all about and it’s good to get the first one out of the way. I just spoke to His Highness and we said we’d let the dust settle before come up with a plan but we could maybe go for the Gold Cup. But we’ll sit back and enjoy today before deciding where we go.”
Buick was quick to pay tribute to Cross Counter’s desire and confidence after a four-month lay-off, and admitted his decision to ride the winner over Ispolini was down to knowing how special the horse is to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
“I was always going to choose Cross Counter over Ispolini and it is great has he come out and won on his return. Cross Counter is a special horse for His Highness and Godolphin,” said the 30-year-old.
“The pace was a bit stop-start and I was very happy with the way he travelled and he finished off well with great energy and confidence. It is a great effort when you consider he has been off since the Melbourne Cup.”
Know more about Sport360 Application