Thunder Snow becomes first ever back-to-back winner of Dubai World Cup

David Cooper - Writer 20:49 30/03/2019
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The greats across all sport always rise to the occasion.

Three weeks ago at Meydan, Thunder Snow was making his first appearance of 2019, and struggled to second place, finishing nine and a half lengths behind Cappezano.

His speed was lacking, stamina looked weak and he seemed a different horse to the one that lit up World Cup night 12 months ago.

But pressure makes diamonds and his trainer Saeed bin Suroor never looked worried, always reiterating the fact that more training and recovery would work in his star’s favour for World Cup night.

And Godolphin’s Emirati handler proved to be right.

Thunder Snow provided both him and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, with a record ninth triumph in a thrilling race.

With Christophe Soumillon again in the plate, Thunder Snow was settled on the heels of the leaders and tracked the imposing favourite North America and Gronkowski into the home straight.

As North America faded away with the intense pace of the closing stages, it turned into a battle between Thunder Snow and Gronkowski, with the defending champion prevailing by a nose after a photo finish.

And while Gronkowski did not win, Oisin Murphy should be proud in the manner of which he guided the four-year-old around the track.

For bin Suroor, it was a remarkable victory and one that was richly deserved for the Dubai World Cup’s greatest-ever trainer.

The next focus for Thunder Snow will be the Breeders’ Cup in November where he finished an excellent third last season. Perhaps that extra year of training and experience could work in his favour ahead of the award winning race.

“He is a such a brave horse. I wasn’t sure if he had won, but we had the best jockey in the world on board and he knows him so well,” said bin Suroor.

“He has won the UAE Derby and now the Dubai World Cup twice on him from wide draws and they are a great team. 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.

“As for Thunder Snow, I will have to speak with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, but I would like if he could run in America again. Maybe in New York, in Saratoga with the final plan being the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita.”

Soumillon showed serious composure throughout the 2000 metre race and never appeared worried.

It was a tougher race than the 2018 victory but the Belgian jockey picked his moment to great effect on the home straight and steered Thunder Snow to a famous triumph.

The 37-year-old said: “Last year I won by five, six or more lengths and today I had to fight hard. The two horses in front were going better than me, but I gave him a chance.

“It was very hard to get by Gronkowski. I was looking more like a Cheltenham jump jockey in the end instead of an American-style jockey, but you need to keep him going and do something different.

“I promised to Saeed that I would have the trophy and he would have the money so I will have to come back next year.”

North America finished a disappointing seventh and jockey Richie Mullen admitted he had no explanation for his below par performance.

“We were dictating nice fractions but at the furlong (200 metres) 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 to the straight. I have no explanation. It was a below par effort,” he said.

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