Thunder Snow, Godolphin’s courageous winner of last month’s G2 UAE Derby at Meydan, is set to have a crack at the G1 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed has given the green light for the Helmet colt to travel to America to take up the ‘win and you are in’ option open to the winner of the Dubai Classic.
Trainer Saeed bin Suroor will be saddling his seventh runner in the Kentucky Derby – his best-performed was China Visit, who finished 6th of 20 runners behind Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000.
Saeed has long felt Thunder Snow would be suitable for the challenge of America’s famous ‘Run For The Roses.’
“Sheikh Mohammed has made the decision to run Thunder Snow in the Kentucky Derby,” the trainer said.
“The horse is in good form. He is sound, healthy, and working really well, and I am so happy with him.
“It is great to see another horse from Godolphin travel to the Kentucky Derby as it is one of the best races in the world.
“Thunder Snow prepared (for this race) in Dubai. He will be in quarantine for two days and then it will be back to his normal routine,” the trainer said.
Thunder Snow has had a solid grounding for his biggest challenge. He finished second in Doncaster’s G2 Champagne Stakes, 4th in the G1 Dewhurst at Newmarket, and then put together a hat-trick of high class wins, in the G1 Criterium International at Saint-Cloud, and the UAE 2,000 Guineas and Derby at Meydan.
Christophe Soumillon will again take the ride.
Three-year-old colts Youmkin and Bay Of Poets get a chance to race on the unique Epsom Downs course, UK, in the 10-furlong Investec Derby Trial (14.45hrs local time) on Wednesday, April 26.
The £50,000 conditions race offers a rare opportunity for aspiring G1 Investec Derby contenders to be tested on the famous undulating course, with the winner receiving free entry into the £1.5-million Classic (12f) on June 3.
Youmkin (Saeed bin Suroor/Oisin Murphy) already holds an Investec Derby entry and the son of Street Cry makes his second start after staying on well to take a Nottingham maiden over an extended mile in October.
“Youmkin is ready to make his first start of the season but he doesn’t show a lot in the mornings and is a little lazy in his work,” said trainer, Bin Suroor.
“We will see how he gets on this week before deciding where to go with him, but I am hoping for another good run.”
Bay Of Poets (Charlie Appleby/William Buick) won a mile Polytrack maiden easily at Kempton Park in September but failed to make much impact in three subsequent Pattern appearances, including when eighth in the mile G1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster in October.
“Bay Of Poets has wintered well and settled down a lot mentally. His work has been good and suggests that this step up in trip is going to suit,” said Appleby.
“We were struggling to get a handle on him last year because his work was so good and then he disappointed on the racecourse. We know that he has ability and, if he turns up in the same form as his morning work, then he is going to be very competitive.”
Their main opponents could be two unbeaten colts, Cracksman and Tartini.
The 23rd running of the Dubai World Cup has been scheduled for Saturday, March 31 next year.
This was announced Monday by the Emirates Racing Authority (ERA), who released the fixture list for the 2017-2018 UAE racing season.
The ERA season will offer 62 race dates and opens at Jebel Ali on Friday, November 3, this year.
The curtains go up in Abu Dhabi Racecourse a day later, while Meydan Racecourse will host its first domestic meet on Thursday, November 9.
Sharjah Racecourse gets its season underway on November 11 and Al Ain on November 24.
The international racing season kicks off with the opening Dubai World Cup Carnival (DWCC) meeting at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday, January 11.
In total, the UAE racing season will include 10 meetings at Al Ain Racecourse, 15 at Abu Dhabi Racecourse, 11 at Jebel Ali Racecourse, six at Sharjah and 20 at Meydan.
Malih Al Basti, ERA Board Member, said: “We are pleased to release the fixtures for the 2017-2018 UAE racing season. The schedule offers trainers and race goers a comprehensive season of racing across our five tracks.
“We offer racing for domestic and international horses in both the Thoroughbred and Purebred Arabian ranks and look forward to the start of another successful season of racing in the UAE.”