Thunder Snow's 'options open' following historic Dubai World Cup win
Another shot at the Breeders' Cup Classic among the possibilities for the Godolphin horse
After making history at the Dubai World Cup on Saturday, it is perhaps inevitable that Godolphin will take stock before deciding what is next for Thunder Snow.
The five-year-old was the star of the show at Meydan as he won the evening's big race for the second successive year - the first time any horse had won the event more then once.
The limelight is now firmly on Thunder Snow and his trainer Saeed bin Suroor, who extended his own record haul of wins in the race to nine, has acknowledged that there will be no snap decision on when the world will next see their race winner in action.
Competing in Europe over the summer and then taking on the Breeders' Cup Classic in the United States again are some of what Bin Suroor has in mind, though nothing will happen before he consults with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and the founder of the Dubai Racing Operation.
"We have kept our options open,” Bin Suroor said when asked where Thunder Snow would go next after his success in the race for the second time in-a-row at Meydan on Saturday.
“We’ll talk to Sheikh Mohammed of his future. Perhaps take him to York and America to the Breeders Cup.”
Thunder Snow's stock has risen significantly following Saturday's triumph as the manner of the accomplishment could not have been further from that of 12 months ago.
Then Thunder Snow and jockey Christophe Soumillon had streaked away and won comfortably as he proved the class of the field.
But Saturday showed how much resolve and determination there was in the horse and jockey combination, and the potential that is there for them to achieve even more.
They had started from Gate 12, the second widest from the rail, and it had been clear that the start was going to be make or break to the hopes of history happening.
Soumillon and Bin Suroor knew this and had worked in advance on this. Their preparations paid off as Thunder Snow charged out of the gate and immediately put himself among the leaders.
The rest of the race was perfectly paced as Thunder Snow got the better of Gronkowski in a tense sprint to the line. He won by a nose, not much of a advantage, but great sporting legacies are often built on such fine margins.
It highlighted that Thunder Snow is a big time player. The race had to be executed perfectly and that was exactly what was achieved.
Last year Godolphin chose to rest Thunder Snow for much of the summer, and he did not run again until August at York in the International Stakes.
He also competed in the United States with the high point being a strong finish at the Breeders' Cup to finish third. He was beaten by Accelerate and Gunnevera that day, with the latter beaten on Saturday as he had to settle for third place at Meydan.
The fact that Gunnevera was conquered, five months after he had finished ahead of Thunder Snow, highlights the progress made.
“It’s very rare that you find a horse who can win big Group 1 races on turf and dirt,” added Bin Suroor.
“It means a lot to win a ninth Dubai World Cup with a horse like Thunder Snow. This is also a great result for Sheikh Mohammed, for Godolphin, and horse racing worldwide - to see a beautiful horse, who is famous throughout the world, win the Dubai World Cup again.”
There is no doubt that Thunder Snow is now a superstar in the racing world and the only question now is how ambitious his trainer and those around him are.
Going two better to win the Breeders' Cup this year, which is held at Saint Anita in California in November, certainly seems achievable, or even looking ahead and thinking about trying to go for a hat-trick of Dubai World Cup titles next March.
For now, Godolphin and Bin Suroor can bask in a stunning achievement and know that no matter what the future holds, their horse is already guaranteed to go down in history as an all-time great.
Updated: April 25, 2019 03:15 AM