Hawkbill, making his seasonal debut, got the better of Frontiersman as the Charlie Appleby-trained five-year-olds fought out a tremendous finish to the G2 Dubai City of Gold Sponsored By Emirates SkyCargo at Meydan, UAE, on Super Saturday, 10 March.
Both horses broke well in the 12-furlong race on turf, with Frontiersman (James Doyle) taking up the running after a furlong as Hawkbill (William Buick) disputed fifth towards the outside of the 13-strong field.
Hawkbill started to take closer order around runners on the final turn and cruised up to take a narrow advantage as they straightened up.
But Frontiersman rallied strongly and pressed his stable companion all the way to the line, with Hawkbill prevailing by a head in 2m 26.85s on good turf. Gold Star (Saeed bin Suroor/Jim Crowley) made good late headway to finish third, a further five lengths behind Frontiersman.
Charlie Appleby said: “I was delighted with the performances of both Hawkbill and Frontiersman.
“They were the two class horses coming into the race and we always felt that, if they brought their European form to the table, they would be the two horses to beat.
“Hawkbill has shown his class and we will aim him at the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1, 1m 4f, 31 March) on Dubai World Cup Night.
“I was very pleased with Frontiersman as well. I think that we have something to work with – he put his head down and has run as straight as a gun barrel.
“We are still learning a bit about him and it hopefully won’t be long before we can win a nice race with him.”
William Buick added: “Hawkbill has been a great horse to ride over the years. We knew that he was going to turn up tonight as he had been in good form at home and the team have done a great job with the horse.
“We hoped beforehand that it would be between Hawkbill and Frontiersman, which is how it worked out, and they both showed tenacity and quality.
“I didn’t think that I got a very good run around, so I would hope that Hawkbill’s performance is value for a little bit more.
“It was a nice performance and I think that we can go into the Dubai Sheema Classic quite hopeful.
“Maurizio Pasquale, who rides Hawkbill every day at home, said that he felt that the horse would be 85 per cent tonight and he is never far wrong, so there is plenty left to work on.
“The Dubai Sheema Classic is going to be a much tougher race, so he will need to improve, but Hawkbill is a G1 winner already.”
Saeed bin Suroor commented: “I was pleased with the performance of Gold Star on his first run in a G2 race. We will see how he comes out of today before making any plans.”