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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Dubai World Cup Carnival: Thunder Snow and Heavy Metal to do battle in Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2

Thunder Snow's trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, has won this race 10 times previously

Thunder Snow enters the Dubai World Cup having won the UAE Derby last year. Pawan Singh / The National
Thunder Snow enters the Dubai World Cup having won the UAE Derby last year. Pawan Singh / The National

Thursday’s fifth meeting of the 2018 Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan Racecourse is a quality one with three feature races on dirt, as well as the Meydan Classic Trial on the turf.

The official feature is the 1,900-metre Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2, a race Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor has won 10 times, including in 2003 with subsequent Dubai World Cup winner Moon Ballad.

This year Bin Suroor relies on Thunder Snow, a Group 1 winner as a juvenile and last year as a three year old in Europe. He also landed both the Group 3 UAE 2000 Guineas and Group 2 UAE Derby in 2017. The four year old, who will be ridden by Christophe Soumillon, was second in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 over 1,600m on his seasonal reappearance and his trainer expects the return to 1,900m, the course and distance of his UAE Derby victory, to suit him.

“Thunder Snow has been doing well since his return in the first round and the step up in trip will suit,” Bin Suroor said. “He is in good form, has been working well and is ready to go. We have a good record in this race and have won it with some very good horses.”

Thunder Snow chased home the Salem bin Ghadayer-trained Heavy Metal in Round 1 four weeks ago. It was a sixth Meydan dirt victory for the horse, all bar one over that 1,600m. Mikael Barzalona gets the ride as Heavy Metal steps up to 1,900m for the first time locally on Thursday.

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“Obviously, he loves it at Meydan on the dirt surface and he has continued to work very well since his last win,” Bin Ghadayer said. “This is a different test, over further, but we could not be happier with the horse at home.”

The main support race, the 1,200m Al Shindagha, features a rematch between Comicas, Muarrab, Reynaldothewizard and My Catch, who filled the first four places in the Group 3 Dubawi Stakes in that order three weeks ago over the same course and distance.

“I was delighted with the performance of Comicas in the Dubawi Stakes and he came out of that race well,” trainer Charlie Appleby said. “We are taking on the same horses again, but under a penalty. He is in great nick though, and should be bang on there again.”

The 1,600m UAE 1000 Guineas, restricted to three-year-old fillies, has attracted a field of eight and is headlined by the 1,400m trial first and second, Winter Lightning and Rayya.

“She won the trial and has done well since,” Bin Suroor said of Winter Lightning. “She is very like Thunder Snow. She is relaxed and nothing bothers her. There are some nice fillies in the race, but we are looking for another good result.”