Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor is looking to Thunder Snow to continue his excellent run of international results in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.
The trainer has been in fine form on a worldwide scale with Royal Meeting landing a French Group One on Sunday, while both Best Solution and Benbatl have struck at the highest level in Australia in recent weeks, with the latter also chasing home record-breaker Winx in the Cox Plate over the weekend.
Thunder Snow was an impressive winner of the Dubai World Cup at Meydan back in March and has been trained for this race, making his comeback in the Juddmonte International at York before finishing second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont in his two prep runs.
The Helmet colt enjoyed a spin around the Kentucky track on Monday morning and Bin Suroor is anticipating a bold show for the Godolphin team.
He said: “I’ve always liked the qualities of this horse.
“He has a good turn of foot which you need in the race. He’s always been a very sound horse, healthy and happy. He gives you everything and he has a big heart. These are the things I like about him.
“When I first took him on to the dirt in Dubai, it was quite scary the fractions he clocked and since then everything has been geared towards preparing him for the Classic.
“Sheikh Mohammed thought the best course was to give him a break and then get him ready for this.
“He lost two shoes in the Juddmonte, but came back well to run a very good race at Belmont in the Jockey Club, where he finished a very good second.
“Mentally I’m very pleased with him and he seems to have put on some condition. He is fit and ready to go.”
Connections will be hoping he fares better than the last time he ran at Churchill Downs, when he pulled up after leaving the stalls in the 2017 Kentucky Derby.
Thunder Snow was not the only British-trained contender on show on Monday, with the headline acts of Enable and Roaring Lion also strutting their stuff.
Benbatl’s trainer Saeed bin Suroor admitted his charge had simply been beaten by the better horse after super mare Winx won a record fourth Cox Plate at Moonee Valley in Australia on Saturday.
Chris Waller’s seven-year-old claimed the Group One heat for the last three years, putting her level with Kingston Town who also won three renewals between 1980 and 1982.
However, Winx surpassed that mark and now stands alone after swooping past Godolphin challenger Benbatl in the final of 10 furlongs to gain a comfortable success in the hands of Hugh Bowman.
Winx’s victory also takes her unbeaten run to 29 races, stretching back to April 2015.
After his valiant challenge Benbatl will now return to Dubai, where Bin Suroor plans to discuss plans for the future with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Bin Suroor said: “(Winx) is a superstar – the best of the best. I’m very happy for her owners, trainer and jockey. It was a great race, we took our chance but our horse was beaten by a better filly.
“(Benbatl) ran well, but she’s something special.
“He is in good shape now and we will take him back to Dubai and we will race him there. We will talk to Sheikh Mohammed and he will make the decision for the future.”
Winx was settled on the heels of the early leaders, with both Benbatl and Aidan O’Brien’s runner Rostropovich also racing to the fore, with the latter the first to make his bid for home under Ryan Moore.
Oisin Murphy had the move covered on Benbatl though, but Winx was cruising round the turn, racing widest of all, and when Bowman gave the signal, she shot clear before being eased down on the line.
Benbatl stuck on for second with Humidor third, but Winx was a decisive scorer.
Bowman told Racing.com: “I can’t believe it. I really thought in the build up to the race I would get quite emotional, I am feeling emotional but the electricity that came through my body when I turned into the home straight just then was something I guess I only get to feel.
“Everyone watching gets so much joy and pleasure out of the superb ability of this wonderful horse. The fact she’s been able to do it so many times consecutively just speaks volumes for the management of her.
“I really felt (the pressure) this week, more than I have before. On Thursday I rang a few close mates to have a bit of a chat, I just try to do things to keep my mind occupied.
“I’m just so proud to be part of this amazing story.”
Waller said: “Going past the straight the first time, I was a bit concerned she was three wide, but it all unfolded very well. She got cover and the pace wasn’t too strong. She only really performs under pressure, so that was my only concern.
“To see her unleash as she does, I was looking for Humidor coming off the back and seeing how the others were travelling, but she had them covered a long way from home.
“It’s indescribable. (My team) all do great jobs, particularly Winx. With the media and the fans, it’s just gone to a whole new level. We’re not trained to deal with it, but thanks to everybody.
Part-owner Debbie Kepitis wept tears of joy following the result.
She said: “It’s surreal really – four Cox Plates, how do you describe that? It’s never been done and this mighty mare, she raced so well.
“Benbatl was there, we’ve beat the overseas horses and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for coming over.
“She’s shown the talent she has – what a horse.”
All eyes were on Winx at Moonee Valley as the mighty mare completed a 29th straight victory and fourth consecutive Cox Plate win.
Godolphin’s Benbatl was seen as Winx’s main competitor ahead of the race and proved as much, leading at the turn until being overtaken on the final stretch.
The victory sees Winx move ahead of Kingston Town as the most successful horse in Cox Plate history.