Hawkbill returned from a break to just hold on in the Group Two Dubai City Of Gold at Meydan.
Hawkbill broke well but it was Frontiersman who won the race for the early lead and went a length clear of Janszoon.
At the back Gilt Complex was pulled up.
Leaving the back, Frontiersman led from Best Solution and Earnshaw, with Janszoon next and then Hawkbill making ground.
Straightening up, Frontiersman still led but Hawkbill came to challenge to his outside and the Godolphin pair got away.
Hawkbill moved on with 1 ½ furlongs to race, but was made to battle, as Frontiersman persisted next to the rails.
It got very close in the latter stages, but Hawkbill and William Buick held on by a head, with five lengths back to Gold Star in third and then came Called To The Bar.
The Charlie Appleby trained five year old had not raced since September.
Appleby said: “I was very happy with Hawkbill’s preparation off a break and it was a really good performance.
“They were the two class horses and I was also pleased with Frontiersman who fought all the way to the line.
“Hawkbill didn’t get things his way in the race itself, but his class saw him through.
“All being well he will head for the Sheema, but with Frontiersman it’s in the back of my mind to consider stepping him up in trip for the Gold Cup, a decision about which will be taken after I’ve spoken with Sheikh Mohammed.”