Two decades after watching Cigar win first ever World Cup as an academy trainee, Belgian rider clinches his first victory on record-breaking night at one of world's biggest races
Dubai World Cup win for Godolphin's Thunder Snow 'has not sunk in' for jockey Christophe Soumillon
Thunder Snow capped Godolphin’s night with a sensational victory in the 23rd staging of the Dubai World Cup.
It was a first for jockey Christophe Soumillon, and it took Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor’s record to eight winners overall in Dubai’s most prestigious equine prize.
Soumillon settled Thunder Snow in front and never surrendered the advantage as the duo came clear from the American Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s pair of West Coast and Mubtaahij at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday.
“Saeed told me to get him the best start possible for him from the wide draw [Gate 10 in the 10-horse field],” an ecstatic Soumillon said. “I never thought I would be making the running, but no horses challenged early in the race. West Coast let me go. I was really cantering on the back straight and when I pushed him he kept finding."
Soumillon said Thunder Snow came into the race after a productive Dubai World Cup Carnival outing, winning once and finishing runner up twice in the three-race Al Maktoum Challenge series.
“He’s a champion horse as a two-year-old in England and won the UAE Derby as a three-year-old, and [he has] now won the Dubai World Cup as a four-year-old. He’s an amazing,” Soumillon said.
The Belgian jockey predictably found it difficult to express his feelings after winning his first Dubai World Cup.
“It is difficult to say how I’m feeling because it has not sunk in," he said. "I had finished second one time but winning this was like a dream come true. When I was in the Jockeys Academy I was looking at these races and was screaming and crying when Cigar won [the first ever Dubai World Cup race in 1996].
"Today I won and it is fantastic.”
It was a good night for Godolphin, as its trainers Bin Suroor and Charlie Appleby clinched two races each.
“We won two years in a row and now we come back to win a Group 1 - is a very good result and brilliant,” Bin Suroor said of his first World Cup triumph since saddling Prince Bishop to victory in 2015.
“The jockey has done a great job despite drawn in Gate No 10. What he has done that nobody has done. To take from Gate 10 and take him to position from where can win is superb.”
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Four new track records were created on the night.
Thunder Snow ran the 2,000-metre distance on dirt in a record time of 2min 01.38sec.
Vazirabad became the first thoroughbred to win three races on the World Cup night after completing a hat-trick of the Dubai Gold Cup. He did in record time, too.
Mind Your Biscuits retained his hold on the Golden Shaheen in record time.
Tallaab Al Khalediah became the first horse trained by a Saudi Arabian trainer Mutlaq bin Mashref to win the Dubai Kahayla Classic, the Arabian showpiece at the meeting. The horse also bettered the 2,000m record time for Purebred Arabians.