St Nicholas Abbey strikes in Dubai Sheema Classic
ST Nicholas Abbey put up a magnificent performance to land the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan under an inspired Joseph O'Brien ride.
Second 12 months ago, his young rider was keen to have him handy from the off as he sat on the heels of Shareta, with much-vaunted Japanese mare Gentildonna keen through the early stages on his outside.
O'Brien opted to kick on entering the straight and while Gentildonna gave chase, she never quite looked like she would get there and in the end was well-held by the Aidan O'Brien-trained winner.
Recording his first winner on Dubai World Cup night, O'Brien junior was quick to salute a horse who has also given him success at the Breeders' Cup.
He said: "I felt I was a little bit unlucky last year and just got going a bit late, I was doing all my best work coming to the line.
"There didn't seem much pace on paper and Mr (Derrick) Smith in particular just said that after last year to ride him a bit more forward and see what happens.
"I knew my lad is tough and he tries hard.
"He is very special, he gives his best every day and is a great ride. He relaxes and he quickens, he tries hard and you can't ask for more."
O'Brien senior said: "Everyone works so hard at home and obviopusly Joseph is a big help so it is brilliant.
"I always felt this horse wanted to be ridden back a little bit, but Joseph and Derrick were always very much of the other mind, so obviously they got their way today and what they said was right.
"He's more mature now and he proved today you can ride him any way you want.
"The lads have worked him out now better than I have. There's not many miles on the clock so he's hopefully going to be a very exciting horse."