Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 June 2019

Super Saturday: 2018 Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow returns to Meydan

The Godolphin horse takes part in the Group 1 Maktoum Challenge Round 3 in a final dress rehearsal ahead of Dubai World Cup night on March 30

Jockey Christophe Soumillon gestures as he rides Thunder Snow after winning the Dubai World Cup horse race at the Dubai World Cup in the Meydan Racecourse on March 31, 2018 in Dubai. / AFP PHOTO / GIUSEPPE CACACE
Jockey Christophe Soumillon gestures as he rides Thunder Snow after winning the Dubai World Cup horse race at the Dubai World Cup in the Meydan Racecourse on March 31, 2018 in Dubai. / AFP PHOTO / GIUSEPPE CACACE

All eyes will be on Godolphin’s Thunder Snow, the 2018 Dubai World Cup winner, as he returns to Meydan for his first start of the season in Super Saturday’s feature race, the Group 1 Maktoum Challenge Round 3.

The meeting is a dress rehearsal for the Dubai World Cup on March 30 and consists of two Group 1 races, a Group 2, three Group 3s and a Listed prize.

Thunder Snow was runner-up in the race 12 months ago and lines up alongside nine others, including stablemate Nordic Lights, over the Dubai World Cup course and distance of 2,000-metre on dirt.

The Saeed bin Suroor-trained five year old competed in all three Maktoum Challenge Series races last season but Saturday will be his first race since placing third in the Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November.

“We gave Thunder Snow a break after his run at the Breeders’ Cup because he had a hard season in 2018,” Bin Suroor told Godolphin's website.

“He ran four times in Dubai and then in the UK before having two starts in the USA. It was a long year for him, from January until November, and he deserved a rest afterwards.

“He is back now and did his final piece of work last Sunday, which went well. We also took him to Meydan last week, to work on the dirt there, and he looks to be in good condition at the moment.

“His main aim for the first part of the season is the Dubai World Cup again and this is a stepping stone towards that target. He will need this run and I expect him to improve for the race.”

Nordic Lights has run twice in the Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan this year and was an impressive winner of his second start, but runs for the first time on dirt on Saturday.

“We felt that he might be able to adapt to dirt based on a few things that we have seen from him. He has good gate-speed and travels well in his races,” said Godollphin trainer Charlie Appleby.

“We are well stocked in the Jebel Hatta, which was the only other option for him, and we feel that, while Thunder Snow will be very hard to beat, the rest of the field are quite evenly matched.

“He has worked on the dirt at home, which is quite deep, and the sounder surface at Meydan should suit him better.”

Gronkowski and Logrado are a couple of interesting entries making their local debuts.

The former is back in the Emirates following a campaign in the United States to join the stables of Dubai-based trainer Salem bin Ghadayer who returns after serving a one-year ban after one of his horses was found to have run with a prohibited substance in its system at Jebel Ali in January 2018.

Logrado has won a Grade 1 prize in his native Argentina and is trained by Erwan Charpy, who also saddles the mare Furia Cruzada.

The local challenge is spearheaded by Doug Watson’s Cosmo Charlie, Ahmad bin Harmash’s New Trails, South Korean raider Dolkong and Bin Ghadayer’s other two runners Capezzano and Montserrat.

Godolphin represents half the entries in the 10-runner Group 1 Jebel Hatta, the concluding event of the seven-race card.

Four of those are trained by Appleby and Wootton is the choice of the trainer’s first jockey William Buick.

“We feel that he is going to be very competitive on his first try over nine furlongs,” Appleby said of Wootton. Loxely, Blaire House and First Contact are Appleby’s other entries.

Bin Suroor saddles Dream Castle who is chasing a hat-trick of victories after winning the Group 3 Singspiel Stakes and the Group 2 Al Rashidiya both over the course and distance.

“He’s has done very well out in Dubai, winning both his starts, and heads into Super Saturday in good order. His latest piece of work went very well,” Bin Suroor said.

Updated: March 8, 2019 08:52 AM

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