Dubai Duty Free Ends With First Dead-Heat in World Cup History

By Jason Ford
On paper it looked the race of the night and the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) at 1 1/8 miles over the Nad Al Sheba grass track certainly lived up to that billing. Kerrin McEvoy attempted to make all on the Godolphin second string, Refuse To Bend with stable companion Crimson Palace travelling well in behind, but a host of challengers were all going equally well.

Gerard Butler's Nayyir, the horse with stamina doubts, made his bid for glory under Michael Kinane and galloped resolutely to the line. He had no answer to the very late challenges thrown down by German raider Paolini and Mike de Kock's Right Approach and the pair flashed past the post together – the latter's head down. Paolini, runner-up to De Kock's Ipi Tombe in the same race last year, was in front certainly, other than on the nod and it was a desperately close call – one that had the judge deliberating over an enlarged print for many minutes.

The verdict, announced to an absorbed crowd, was a dead-heat and a fairer result there could not have been. Both horses gave their all under perfectly timed challenges and honours were even.

Right Approach, a five-year, a 5-year-old entire son of Machiavellian, was having his second start for De Kock, having been trained in England by Sir Michael Stoute, on behalf of his breeder, Her Majesty The Queen for whom he won a listed stake. He was sold at Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training Sale last year for 65,000 guineas, having attracted a reputation for not wanting to win: "He was a bit of an experiment when we bought him,"said De Kock, who is also the part-owner, as is golfer Lee Westwood. "We wanted a good horse for little money and he fit the bill. He had been working well, but everybody kept telling us he was not genuine."

He is a full-brother to New Assembly, who placed in a stake at Saratoga. Their dam, Abbey Strand, is a winning Shadeed half-sister to listed winner Church Parade and to Whitechapel, Leading Star and Castle Rising, all of whom were placed in group company.

The second dam, Christchurch, was a winning So Blessed half-sister to the legendary Highclere – the winner of the One Thousand Guineas and dam of Height of Fashion, herself the dam of Nashwan, Unfuwain and Nayef. Abbey Strand has a yearling full-brother to this winner named Dean's Yard and a juvenile colt by Benny The Dip named Benedict.

Paolini, meanwhile, was winning for the first time for German legend Andreas Wohler, under Eduardo Pedroza. In fact, this was only his fifth career win from 23 starts, but was also running in his 19th consecutive group 1 race. His last win came in the group 1 Gran Premio di Milano, in Italy in the summer of 2001 and this was fully deserved.

He is a half-brother to fellow German legend Platini, a dual group 1 winner and a more deserved, or exciting, big race victory, you will not see.

Trainer Wohler was over the moon: "That was amazing. This horse has really helped put me on the map and he so deserved to win a big one. He has had a few problems but was working well and we were always hopeful. When they went past I did not think we had been beaten but was not confident we had won. A dead-heat was probably fair. What a race!"