Charlie Appleby has stolen most of the headlines during Meydan’s Dubai World Cup Carnival but fellow Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor’s Thunder Snow could provide the main story on Super Saturday’s terrific seven-race simulcast programme.
On a perch of 122, he is the highest rated horse on the card but more significant perhaps is the fact that, even though a dual G1 winner on turf, he seems to have an absolute affinity with Meydan’s dirt surface.
Saturday’s target is the G1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 over 2000m, the course and distance of his sensational victory in last year’s G1 Dubai World Cup – that revered equine dirt battle which needless to say is on his agenda again at the end of this month.
Christophe Soumillon’s mount has drawn gate two on Saturday – perfect for his front-running style. And, whilst there is plenty of other early velocity in this 10-runner contest, supporters of the five-year-old entire will be delighted to see that the other potential front-runners – Cosmo Charlie, Nordic Lights and Capezzano – have drawn much more complicated gates in seven, eight and nine respectively.
Bin Suroor is rarely very vocal before a big assignment but of Thunder Snow he enthused: “He’s a champion and a really tough horse who has never had an easy time. But he has had a nice break since finishing third in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic (at Churchill Downs last November) and I’m very happy with him.”
Soumillon has partnered the horse to six of his seven career wins so the brilliant 37-year-old jockey understands Thunder Snow’s peculiarities as well as his talents: “He’s a funny horse and if he doesn’t want to do something there is nothing you can do about it. But he is pure quality and loves it here at Meydan, a track that really suits front-runners.”
There could be more Super Saturday G1 glory for bin Suroor and Soumillon via Dream Castle in the G1 Jebel Hatta over 1800m on the turf. A revelation since being gelded and moving up in trip, he has stylishly won a G3 and a G2 on his two Meydan starts this year and a wide gate may not be such an inconvenience for a gelding who tends to sit off the speed before pouncing.
Interestingly, William Buick who has the pick of the Appleby horses rides Wootton in the Jebel Hatta ahead of the stable’s other three contenders including last year’s winner Blair House, the mount this time of Brett Doyle.
Meydan’s champion trainer has spoken in glowing terms about Wootton, but also about lightly-raced Meydan beginner Loxley, a winner of four of eight starts in Europe and James Doyle’s ride on Saturday.
Appleby said: “Other than not lasting the much longer distance in the St Leger (a 2905m G1 Classic) at Doncaster last September, Loxley improved throughout last year and we think there is more to come in 2019. This distance is ideal and, if he runs well here, the G1 Dubai Turf on World Cup night will come right on to his agenda.”