Dubai: Veteran Godolphin handler Saeed Bin Surour was taking it all in his stride after Thunder Snow, who is bidding to become the first horse in history to win back-to-back Dubai World Cups (G1), ticked all the right boxes during two important blow outs held within the space of five days.
The son of Helmet appeared to be in good nick on the morning of February 26 when stretching out majestically on the Meydan dirt track under specialist work-rider and six-time British Champion jockey Kieren Fallon, a performance that he reprised at Godolphin’s Al Quoz training centre, a five-minute drive away on Saturday, March 2.
Bin Surour, who has won the $12 million Dubai World Cup on eight occasions since 1999, was pleased with the way his stable flag-bearer handled his assessment and said it was all systems go for Thunder Snow’s highly anticipated seasonal appearance in Round 3 of the $600,000 Al Maktoum Challenge on Super Saturday, March 9.
“We didn’t ask too much of him, we just wanted to see how he felt on the Meydan dirt,” Bin Surour told Gulf News. “It was pretty much a routine piece of work, but something that we like to do even though most of his work has been done at Al Quoz.
“I liked the way he stretched out and he looked good doing what he does best. He’s ready for his comeback run, but he will surely improve for it. He hasn’t raced since the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs (November 3, 2018) when he ran a big race to finish third.
“After that we gave him the break that he deserved. He wintered well and looks fresh and happy — the teams that looks after him have done a great job,” added Bin Surour.
“Kieren gets on him in the mornings and has been giving us some positive feedback on his conditioning. Christophe [Soumillon] will ride him on Saturday in a race that we believe will give us something more to learn as we head towards his main target, the Dubai World Cup on March 30.
“But like I said he will need the run, this being his first in over five months, and will certainly improve from it going forward this season.”
The handsome bay raced in the company of recent Dubai World Cup Carnival winner Major Partnership and Very Talented, who he comfortably out galloped during a faster-run second lap at Meydan.
Thunder Snow was drawn favourably in stall 2 for Saturday’s key test with dual Meydan scorer New Trails on his right in stall 3 and UAE debutant Logrado on the inside rail.
With a lot of speed runners in the race, led by the effervescent Capezzano, the start and subsequent tussle for the lead could play a big part in the way the race pans out.
Bin Surour was not willing to be drawn into strategies and succinctly said: “Christophe knows him well and will do what’s best for him.”
The main threat could come from Capezzano, the son of Bernardini who ran a blistering race on his most recent start on January 31, where he bolted away at the start and kept going to win by an incredible 14 lengths under Conor Beasley.
Latest International Odds:
Al Maktoum Challenge R3: 11/10 Thunder Snow, 3/1 Capezzano, 8/1 Gronkowski, 10/1 New Trails, 12/1 Dolkong, 14/1 Nordic Lights, 16/1 Cosmo Charlie, 33/1 Furia Cruzada, 33/1 Logrado, 50/1 Montsarrat.