Cirrus edges St Nick in Sheema
Cirrus Des Aigles
Cirrus Des Aigles gamely held St Nicholas Abbey to land the spoils in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan.
Olivier Peslier found himself in front earlier than expected after Bold Silvano had set a steady pace but the French raider, trained by Corine Barande-Barbe, did not shirk the task.
St Nicholas Abbey came with a rattling late bid for Aidan O'Brien under his son, Joseph, but last year's Champion Stakes hero stuck to his task to take the Group One prize.
Peslier said: "I'm very happy and especially happy because yesterday it was Corine's birthday and this has made me both proud and happy to give this gift for her. I must also thank Christophe (Soumillon) as I had never ridden the horse before and he gave me some valuable tips.
"In the last 100 metres I knew he (St Nicholas Abbey) was coming, but the trainer said don't worry the horse is very tough, every time you ask him he is very competitive. I am very happy for the horse and for the team."
Barande-Barbe added of her gelding: "He likes to fight - if there is a horse in front he wants to pass, if it comes from behind it pushes him. I was very happy, he gets better and better and it's like a dream that never stops.
"If the pace had been much quicker he would have finished, if the pace was not fast he can do it on his own."
O'Brien snr said: "He has run a very good race and Joseph did a good job on him."
Newmarket-based trainer Marco Botti, responsible for third-placed Jakkalberry, said: "I'm very pleased with that run. He stays very well and so we knew he would finish. Beforehand we were hoping to be placed, so I suppose we have achieved our goal.
"Fifty per cent of the horse is owned by Australians and although we will think about Royal Ascot in June I think long term, the Melbourne Cup will be plan."