Lord North (C) with jockey Frankie Dettori and Panthalassa (R) under Yutaka Yoshida finish in a dead heat in Group 1 Dubai Turf at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday. AP
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
Three heads lunged to the wire simultaneously in the Group 1 Dubai Turf (sponsored by DP World), and as the crowd held its held their collective breath the photo sign was quickly displayed. Panthalassa, who had done all the running throughout but Lord North, the defending champion, had bullied his way through the crowded stretch and Vin De Garde, last year’s second, was absolutely flying on the stands’ side.As Vin De Garde’s name showed third, the photo for the top pair remained and jockey Frankie Dettori let out a rip-roaring scream as he was led back to the walking ring.
A dead-heat was eventually declared, the second time such an outcome has occurred in the Dubai Turf, the first coming back in 2004 between Right Approach and Paolini.
Lord North, the six-year-old son of Dubawi, was an easy winner of the 2021 edition of the Dubai Turf but this year had to work and grind to get his nose in the photo. Panthalassa, a five-year-old entire son of Lord Kanaloa continued the hits for the Japanese contingent. His jockey Yutaka Yoshida was able to set early fractions of 24.29 and 47.06 while being chased by Colonel Liam and Desert Fire.
The pace quickened a bit and after 1200 metres in 1:09.66 the real running picked up as the closers began to gain. Desperately seeking the wire, Panthalassa dug back down and got his head on the line at the same time as Lord North in a final running time of 1:45.77.
Yoshito Yahagi, trainer of joint-winner Panthalassa, said: “Usually when he runs he takes the lead and really runs off with the race. We thought he was going to go a little bit further out wide than he did but he really held on until the end. He’s always been a really good starter so we weren’t too worried about the draw.
“We’ve had a lot of good luck today so we didn’t think we’d lose! I’ve never known a wait like that in a photo finish.”
He added: “As the Japanese racehorse level has increased over the years I’ve been really proud to showcase it on the global stage.
“This was his first time running this well on firm ground and in the past he’s run well on softer ground, so taking him over to Europe is high on his to-do list. We’d like to head to Royal Ascot for the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.”
Yutaka Yoshida, rider of joint-winner Panthalassa, said: “It was a very good run from my horse and he did all that I asked of him and only just managed to hold on in the end. This was a very good run from him. I am happy.”
As he awaited the photo finish verdict, Lord North’s rider Frankie Dettori said: “I thought I was beaten on the line so I will settle for a dead-heat if it’s available. He had half the year off, he almost died last year so to get him back to performing at this level, it is a great credit to the team. He gave me everything he had so I can’t ask for anything more.”Once the result was announced, Dettori said: “What an amazing achievement by everyone and this horse, he’s just a fighter. Very few horses can do what he’s done and come back to win the Dubai Turf for the second time. What a horse.”
John Gosden, co-trainer with his son Thady of defending champion Lord North, said: “That’s a very fair result as we got ourselves in a bit of a Japanese sandwich there and those horses are so tough. They’ve been buying horses for the last 30 years or so and their investment is paying dividends, they’ve come here and knocked us for six - they’ve gone and won four races now.
Dettori had previously secured the Dubai World Cup on Dubai Millennium, Moon Ballad and Electrocutionist, but this was the first time he had done so in colours other than those of Godolphin.
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One of those was compatriot Shahryar, who himself was prominent but boxed on at the far rail to repel the challenges of Pyledriver and the fast closing Yibir — who closed all the way to the line down the stand-side rail.
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Delivering a power-packed performance, the UAE team emerged as champions at the Jiu-Jitsu Championship of the 10th Nad Al Sheba (NAS) Sports Tournament 2023 in Dubai on Friday.
Sheikh Mohammed said that the success of the Dubai World Cup reflects the UAE’s determination to be a global role model for achievement and excellence in various fields.