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.
"I'm thrilled with our boy. He's been off for a year with a very nasty throat infection and we've managed to get him back just in time. We had a prep for this in the Lingfield Winter Derby as a trial for this and come here so we're over the moon.
"I thought the whole idea of being a year older and to try and travel to Saudi Arabia, run and then fly back and go again was a bit much. I thought running down the road at Lingfield suited better and he ran a blinder. Alenquer broke the track record and we were thrilled with him in second and I think that was the perfect prep. He's a bit of a veteran now! He's a gelding of a certain age so you've got to look after him."
Thady Gosden added: "There was obviously a very strong pace in the front. Frankie timed it beautifully which was a big relief. I have a huge team behind me and they have been able to do a really good job getting him to win almost a year after winning this race last year. Huge credit to the horse as well.
"The Prince Of Wales's [Stakes, at Royal Ascot] will be his target but we need to see how he comes out of this race."
Mickael Barzalona, jockey of third-placed Vin De Garde, said: "My horse ran a very good race, but he didn't have the luck in the end. We were unlucky."
Jane Chapple-Hyam, trainer of fourth-placed Saffron Beach, said: "She ran a great race, I'm really delighted. She's so tough and we'll have a lot of fun with her this year."
Saffron Beach 's rider Hollie Doyle said: "I'm thrilled with her, super run. We had a lovely position, sitting about third into the straight. She sort of hit a flat spot and then kept going on ground that is pretty quick."
William Knight, trainer of Sir Busker, who finished fifth, said: "He's run a blinder, we got handed a bad draw which we thought ended all chance but he's stuck his head down and stayed on brilliantly to the line."
Sam Hoskins, Racing Manager of Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds, owners of Sir Busker, added: "Amazing, what a run and what a horse. It feels like we've had a winner from the draw we got and I couldn't be prouder."
William Buick, rider of Sir Busker, said: "Great run, especially from the widest gate. He finished very strongly. He's such a genuine horse."
6th - My Oberon, jockey Tom Marquand said: "We were on the rail in the midfield. I thought he ran well in a very good race. The cheekpieces helped him."
7th - Alfareeq, jockey Dane O'Neill said: "He got a bit of a check off the home bend. He would have finished closer but for that. But he's run well in such a strong race."
8th - Schnell Meister, jockey Christophe Lemaire said: "I had a good trip in the middle. He didn't finish like I expected. He is better than that."
9th - Colonel Liam, jockey Irad Ortiz Jr said: "We were up on the speed from the wide gate. Couldn't keep going in the stretch."
12th - Haqeeqy, jockey Adrie de Vries said: "We had to go back from the wide gate. He's not really at that level."
13th - Desert Fire, jockey Pat Cosgrave said: "Nice position behind the leader but this was tough for him against those horses."
14th - Harrovian, jockey James Doyle said: "It was a bit sharp for him. We were in trouble before the home turn."