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Old Persian on song for attempt at rare double

J A McGrath

It is 35 years since any horse completed the G2 King Edward VII Stakes / G1 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby double.

The Michael Stoute-trained Shareef Dancer, in the colours of His Highness Sheikh Maktoum Al Maktoum, was ridden to victory in both in 1983 by Walter Swinburn.

Prior to that, only English Prince, trained by Peter Welwyn and ridden by Yves Saint-Martin, had managed to land the two three-year-old races in question, in 1974.

On Saturday, Godolphin’s Old Persian will attempt to emulate those stars of yesteryear when he backs up only eight days after his triumph in the King Edward VII at Royal Ascot.

He is one of 12 runners in this year’s Irish Derby, and trainer Charlie Appleby is hopeful of a big run from the son of Dubawi.

“He has pleased me since his win at Royal Ascot,” Appleby said.

“He is a colt with a progressive profile and the fact that the ‘win and you are in the Irish Derby’ clause was attached to the King Edward VII made us take a close look at it.

“It’s quite a quick turnaround, but we have been monitoring him closely all week, and I can report he is very well. He has eaten up, and he has regained the weight he lost running at Ascot.

“Physically, he has done very well. Both Saxon Warrior and Dee Ex Bee are the two to fear,” he added.

William Buick, who won the 2015 Irish Derby on Jack Hobbs, will be aboard Old Persian again.

The reason the King Edward VII / Irish Derby has been completed so rarely is the close proximity of the two races — it is rarely attempted — although three decades ago there was a bigger gap than eight days.

Dee Ex Bee, second to Masar at Epsom, attempts to endorse the G1 Investec Derby form by again finishing ahead of Saxon Warrior (fourth at Epsom), Delano Roosevelt (sixth) and The Pentagon (eighth).

Dee Ex Bee carries the distinctive silver colours of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the Crown Prince Of Dubai. Knight To Behold finished 11th at Epsom after making the running. He had previously won the Listed Lingfield Derby Trial.