It was only a matter of time until the equine king of UAE racing resurfaced and such appears to have come. Godolphin's Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1) champion Thunder Snow is ready to make his 2019 Dubai World Cup Carnival debut, according to trainer Saeed bin Suroor, and is on schedule for Super Saturday's Group 1 $600,000 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 on Mar. 9.
The son of Helmet appeared to have his head in the game on Tuesday morning when making a rare appearance at Meydan track work. Based at Godolphin's Al Quoz training centre a five-minute drive away, the bay was joined by five others members of the 'blue army' and was full of himself while galloping two laps with recent Carnival winner Major Partnership and Very Talented, who lines up in Thursday's $160,000 Curlin Handicap. Retired six-time champion jockey Kieren Fallon, who turned 53 this week, was in the saddle as the 2017 UAE Derby (G2) and UAE 2000 Guineas (G3) winner distanced himself from his yard-mates on the second lap after tracking them on the first. Many high-profile connections were there to see the spirited routine move.
“He did his main work at Al Quoz, but sometimes I take a group of horses to Meydan to get a feel or the dirt track,” Bin Suroor said. “We show them the track and get some exercise on it. It's just routine and he looked good on it.
“He's going to be ready for Super Saturday, but he will surely improve from the run,” he continued. “He hasn't raced since November of last year (when third in the Grade 1 $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs). He's had a nice break and we are happy with how he's moved in his work. A week before the race, he will have another blowout at Al Quoz and we will be ready to run. Whatever happens, he will need the run and improve from it.”
A horse who could possibly challenge the multi-surface Group 1 winner in the 2000m race is His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum's Muntazah, who is trained by Doug Watson and carries the dark blue and white of Shadwell. Exiting a one-sided victory in the Firebreak Stakes (G3) over 1600m and being a Godolphin Mile (G2) runner-up last year, he has the option of staying at the shorter distance in the Burj Nahaar (G3) on Super Saturday, as well. The son of Dubawi was originally scheduled to try a distance of ground in the 1900m Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (G2), but tied up two days prior and was rerouted to the following week's Firebreak.
“He's come out of his run really well and what we will likely do is enter both races and make a decision after discussing,” Watson said. “It will be up to the boss. As far as the distance, I think it's more on breeding and what I do is try to get them there fresh and fit. He had an easy work Monday and did it well; moved great. He will have another work that's not overly fast, but in company on (Mar. 4). So far, all is well with him.
“I will likely have (Ramzan Kadyrov's multiple Listed winner) Cosmo Charlie in there and look forward to not taking on North America, because they have such similar styles,” Watson continued. “He likes an uninhibited running style on the front and to be on the rail.”
One who has been trading blows with Cosmo Charlie the last two times they met is Hamdan Sultan Ali Alsabousi's New Trails, who is also pointing toward Round 3 in what will be just his eighth lifetime start. The 5-year-old half-brother to Grade 2 winner Tizaqueena has been filling trainer Ahmad bin Harmash with confidence.
“He's doing very well and is still very new and learning,” Bin Harmash said. “His (second-place finish to North America) last out in (Round 2) was only his seventh run in his life and every day he seems to improve more; every race is better than the one before. Right now, Round 3 of the Maktoum Challenge is the plan and hopefully that will put us in the World Cup. Right now it's all about the big day, but we also know he is a horse who will be even better next year.”
Meanwhile, JRA official have reported that K T Brave is pointing to the Dubai World Cup for owner Kazuyoshi Takimoto. Trained by Haruki Sugiyama, the chestnut 6-year-old exits a pair of placings in the 2100m Kawasaki Kinen (Listed) and 2000m Tokyo Daishoten (G1). This fall, he won both the JBC Classic (Listed) and Nippon TV Hai (Listed) over Group 1 winners Omega Perfume and Apollo Kentucky.
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