Thunder Snow Proves Himself a Versatile Champion in Meydan
Thunder Snow stayed on strongly to win the G2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round Two over an extended nine furlongs at Meydan, UAE, on Thursday, 8 February, sired by Helmet (AUS) the horse is establishing himself as a champion on dirt and turf.
The four-year-old, trained by Saeed bin Suroor and partnered by regular rider Christophe Soumillon, raced in third on the outside for much of the six-runner contest on dirt.
He was asked to improve in the straight and joined Heavy Metal and North America over a furlong out and soon went second.
— Godolphin (@godolphin) February 8, 2018
Thunder Snow nosed ahead of North America passing the half-furlong marker and ran on to score by a cosy neck in a time of 1m 57.89s, with Heavy Metal four lengths further back in third.
Thunder Snow, runner-up to Heavy Metal in the mile G2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round One on 11 January, has now won three of his four starts on dirt at Meydan.
Saeed bin Suroor, celebrating his 11th success in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round Two, said: “I don’t think the trip suited Thunder Snow last time when he ran over the mile and the nine and a half furlongs today is a better distance for him. Going up further in trip to a mile and a quarter will suit him even better.
“After he last ran in England, we gave him a break for three months to prepare him for this Dubai campaign. Thunder Snow has improved from his last race and he looked in good shape and was ready to run tonight.
“Mentally, he has always been nice and relaxed, but physically we thought he had improved and he looked better than ever.
“We will take him to the third round of the Al Maktoum Challenge (G1, 10f, dirt, 10 March, Meydan) on Super Saturday and then Sheikh Mohammed will make the decision where to go after that.
“He looked good today and won well so I am happy.
“Thunder Snow is a tough horse, who always does well and is a professional. He handled the dirt well – he won the UAE 2000 Guineas and the UAE Derby last year. We are looking forward for a better result in the future.”
It was a big race double for Godolphin and Saeed bin Suroor, who had earlier sent out the three-year-old half-sister to Thunder Snow, Winter Lightning, to capture the UAE 1000 Guineas.
Christophe Soumillon said: “Thunder Snow is a better horse than his rivals tonight and also stays quite a bit better than them.
“They showed that they have much more speed than him in the first part of the race, although when we came into the back straight, my horse was a little bit keen and trying to go.
“This is his second start of the year and a preparation race, so I did not want to give him a hard time. He came very well on the turn, then took a big blow in the straight and after that kept going the whole way.
“He is very funny because he knows the big screen here in the straight. Last year he did something funny at 250 metres from the line and today he didn’t, which is good progress, but you still feel that he is looking for something.
“He is learning after each run and the one thing I know with him is to be ready to see something new because of what happened in the Kentucky Derby and Prix Jacques Les Marois. You have to really concentrate and never give him the chance to do something wrong.
“Like I said to Saeed, I love Thunder Snow on the turf. I don’t feel the same energy on the dirt – he doesn’t have the same turn of foot – but he has run four times on dirt for three wins and one second.
“You cannot say that is bad. On turf he has given me a great impression and in Europe I am sure he is probably in the top three milers and mile and a quarter horses on turf.
“But horses who run and train a lot on dirt can improve also and that is what I hope for him.”
Asked whether Thunder Snow would have a chance in the G1 Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline (10f, dirt, 31 March, Meydan), the jockey replied: “It depends on which draw he has and how he jumps out of the gate.
“If you are on the outside and turn four wide, it would be very difficult. He doesn’t have the speed to go to the front so he would have to be handy, sitting third or fourth. It depends who is coming for the race – Gun Runner isn’t so it is much more open.
“I am sure that Thunder Snow will improve a lot. Saeed has a magical record and I am sure he knows how to train the horse if we target that race.
“He would be suited back in Europe by the Juddmonte International at York, though Enable and Winx could be going for the race. I am sure at a mile and a quarter, he will be great. We will see how he goes.”