Dubai World Cup: High drama on the turf at Nad Al Sheba

The first of dead heats happened back in 2004 when four outstanding thoroughbreds were involved in a hair-raising blanket finish in the Dubai Turf (former Dubai Duty Free Stakes)

by

Leslie Wilson Jr

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Right Approach and Paolini could not be split in the Dubai Duty Free Stakes in 2004, the first dead heat in the history of the Dubai World Cup meeting. — DRC
Right Approach and Paolini could not be split in the Dubai Duty Free Stakes in 2004, the first dead heat in the history of the Dubai World Cup meeting. — DRC

Published: Thu 16 Mar 2023, 11:27 PM

Dead heats are not all that common in horse races but their stories make for very interesting reading.

The first of these happened back in 2004 when four outstanding thoroughbreds were involved in a hair-raising blanket finish in the Dubai Turf (former Dubai Duty Free Stakes) at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse.

Run over a distance of 1,800 metres on turf, the contest lived up to its top billing and was fiercely contested to the wire.

Godolphin’s Refuse to Bend, ridden by Australia jockey Kerrin McEvoy, led for most of the trip and appeared well set to give the stable a fifth success in the race, but it was not to be.

Right Approach, bred by The Queen and ridden by Weichong Marwin and Germany-bred Paolini, the mount of Eduardo Pedorza, came from the rear of the field to join two other horses, who were making a bid to steal the contest in front of a sell-out crowd of over 50,000 fans.

Nayyir, ridden by multiple Irish champion Mick Kinane, kicked for home only to be followed by Frankie Dettori aboard Crimson Palace.

Even as the pair went toe to toe, Right Approach and Paolini joined the ruckus inside the final 200 metres.

All four jockeys had their whips out and were urging their mounts to dig deep into their resources. All four horses responded. But as in most cases in a close finish, it is the little extra fuel in the tank that makes the difference between winning and losing.

In this case, both Right Approach and Paolini appeared to have saved up just enough energy for the final push. And while they both gave their all, the finish line came too soon.

As the field began to pull up, the Dubai Racing Club judge went to work on the photo that would decide who had won and who had not.

After several agonising minutes and plenty of nail-biting among fans of both Right Approach and Paolini, the voice of race caller Terry Sprago called it a dead heat.

It was a fair decision because neither horse deserved to lose and while Nayyir and Crimson Palace were adjudged to be third and fourth respectively, the quartet had done something that would forever live in the memory of race enthusiasts.

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