“For me, it will be a very big achievement as no one has achieved this feat of winning the world cup twice so far with the same horse. Thunder Snow is doing well, and he will be at peak fitness on Dubai World Cup night.” These were the words of top Godolphin trainer, Saeed bin Suroor who needs no introduction.
His pupil, defending champion Thunder Snow landed the Gr.1 Dubai World Cup crown, the second time in a row, becoming the first horse in a row to do so.
The Emarati trainer has saddled 12 British Classic winners including Lammtarra, and has sent out nine Dubai World Cup winners including the brilliant Dubai Millennium in 2000 and the dual Dubai World Cup winning Thunder Snow.
Thunder Snow under regular jockey Christophe Soumillonstayed firmly behind North America in the first few furlongs. Mid-way Gronkowski moved up to join North America at the head of the 12 runners entering the back straight, with Thunder Snow settling just behind in third on the inside rail.
Upon entering the straight with two furlongs to go, Christophe Soumillonpushed Thunder Snow to regain his position from North America.
The son of Helmet then battled relentlessly to win by a nose in an exciting photo-finish. His winning time came to 2m 3.87s.
Although North America began well, he weakened into the field, with American challenger Gunnevera coming through late to be beaten two and three-quarter lengths into third.
The son of Helmet has now won eight of his 23 career starts with a prize money total of US$16,011,850.
After the race, Saeed bin Suroor, said, “He is a such a brave horse.”
“I think this is my 191st Group 1 winner but it ranks very highly, probably along with Dubai Millennium in 2000 when he won this race.
After a discussion with Godolphin owner, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, bin Suroor hopes to see the son of Helmet race again in America with the final plan being to race him the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita.
The runner-up had been having issues after his initial success in the Gr.1 Belmont Stakes, however with new tutelage under UAE trainer Salem bin Ghayader the 4YO regained his spirit to compete at the highest level with Thunder Snow.
Amer Abdulaziz, owner, Phoenix Thoroughbreds, Gronkowski said “Salem has done a tremendous job with him, the best of any trainer who has had him so far. When he came here, he had a lot of issues and we had to build him up from scratch. We had to clear his mind and he's done it. I can guarantee you this horse will be back here next year - and hopefully, he can go one better.”
Abdulaziz had said to Ten Furlongs in an exclusive interview, “It would mean a great deal (winning on Dubai World Cup night, as) Phoenix Thoroughbreds is all about competing and being successful at the top level and World Cup Night is one of the most significant events on the Calendar. One day I hope we can win all the big races but given we're based in Dubai, from where we have grown our fund, it would be extra special to win a race on the card and fingers crossed we can win the big one itself. I imagine it would be right up there alongside winning at Royal Ascot.”
Emisael Jaramillo, Jockey, GUNNEVERA (3rd)—“My horse ran a very, very good race. My position in post number one was no good, but my horse is a beautiful, beautiful horse. It was a very good finish. He finished so well even with the position no good. He gave me everything. He tried so hard. He has so much heart. He gave me all. He was excellent.”
Joel Rosario, Jockey, PAVEL (4th)—“He showed me no speed early so I let him do what he wanted to. He was fighting at the death but the winner and second had gone on. It looked for a second like I was going to do something but it was a good effort.”
Flavien Prat, Jockey, AUDIBLE (5th)—“It's too bad I could not keep my spot on the back. He made a nice move. The only excuse is that I couldn't keep my spot but there is nothing you can do about it.”
Jose Ortiz, Jockey, YOSHIDA (6th)—“The horses inside of me came out a bit and Thunder Snow obviously has some speed so I got squeezed a bit in the start but no excuses. He got a good position after that, he made a good move after the 600m pole but turning for home he gave me what he had but the horses in front just kept going. I thought they would slow but they kept going. Congratulations to Sheikh Mohammed and Christophe.”
Richard Mullen, Jockey, NORTH AMERICA (7th)— “We were dictating nice fractions but at the furlong (200m) pole he emptied. We’re going to get him scoped. He just hasn’t put in his race. He travelled extremely well, I was extremely happy until we turned in. I have no explanation. It was a below-par effort.”
Mike Smith, Jockey, SEEKING THE SOUL (8th)—“I’m kind of lost for words – he just seemed tired. He didn’t run his race.”
Royston French, Jockey, AXELROD (9th)—“Obviously he was taking on very good horses. He hasn't run a bad race because he's only been here a short while. He has obviously the ability. He is a class horse and I think we will see the best of him next year.”
Connor Beasley, Jockey, NEW TRAILS (10th)—“I didn’t want to let the leaders get away in the early stages, because he just gallops and gallops, but when they turned the screw from the turn, he got outpaced. Take nothing away from him, he won at the first Meydan meeting and he’s taken me on to the biggest stage in international racing, so I’ve got to be delighted.”
Olivier Doleuze, Jockey, DOLKONG (11th)—“He never stretched. It was a hard race as he was a bit lazy. The pace was very fast, there was a lot of kickback. He’s normally able to come when I ask but he wasn’t able to today. Something went wrong, he wasn’t the real Dolkong. We should have finished closer. I know him as I’ve ridden him three times already and he never stretched like he should today.”
MickaelBarzalona, Jockey, CAPEZZANO (12th)—“We got pushed into the rail after 100m and we were in trouble after that.”
He hopes to seal his ninth Dubai World Cup win in 2019 with Thunder Snow.
The top conditioner speaks to Ten Furlongs in an exclusive telephone interview about the upcoming Dubai World Cup:
Q: You have seen Meydan since its Nad Al Sheba days. What do you like about the new place and what do you miss about the old one?
A: In the old days, there was a smaller crowd and so the Nad Al Sheba racecourse was good at that time. But now we need a bigger race course to accommodate this crowd. And I also believe this iconic building is something which people come from around the world to see. Today Meydan can the 80,000 people who come on Dubai World Cup day. And when I see this huge and spectacular race track at Meydan I feel very happy.
Q: Who is your racing leadership hero?
A: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. His Highness supports horse racing and he has changed the course of racing history in the past forty years. He is the biggest owner in the world, and I doubt anyone will be able to replicate his contribution in this field.
Everyone is in love with him for his contribution to the racing industry.
Q: What was the first leadership lesson you learnt in racing?
A: The most important less one learns is patience. Patience with the horse and the sport. It takes years. You must give the horse time to develop into his potential. You should try to select the right people to work with. Choosing the best professionals and the best horses makes your life easy.
You win in the end if you give your horse time.
Q: Which is Dubai World Cup race you remember the most?
A: I think the best Dubai World Cup was the year when Dubai Millennium won.
Q: When you started racing your horses in the truly iconic races in this world, from those first events which one(s) do you remember the most?
A: I remember my first Group One very well in 1995 with a horse named Red Bishop at Santa Anita. (He has recorded over 2,000 race wins around the world, with 188 of these at Group One level.)
Q: Who is your favourite racehorse of all time and why?
A: My favourite racehorse is Dubai Millennium. He was a fantastic horse. I was devastated when he died. We can see his legacy live on through his son Dubawi who is currently, the top stallion in the whole world.
Q: How did you get involved with racing?
A: My family has been into horse breeding and racing for generations. Even now everyone in my family is involved in the racing, training and breeding industry. I am lucky because I have had the chance to work with the best horses in the world. Things look good.
Q: And finally, what would you like to achieve in the next five years?
A: There are just three major races (in the world) which I am yet to win. It is my goal, to find the right horses and to win these races in the near future.
Winner: Thunder Snow (Ire)
Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor
Jockey: Christophe Soumillon
Official Time: 2:03.87 (2000m, Track Record: 2:01.38 – Thunder Snow, 2018)
The margin of Victory: Nose
When & Where: 30th March 2019 at Meydan Racecourse, UAE
Credit: Curated from press releases received from Dubai Racing Club