Saeed bin Suroor has admitted Thunder Snow’s bid to become the first horse to win the Dubai World Cup “won’t be easy” after Godolphin’s defending champion was dealt a wide draw for Saturday’s race.
Thunder Snow was handed Gate 12 of 13 in Wednesday’s draw, and while he did prevail 12 months ago from a similarly wide gate – the widest of 10 – this year’s challenge appears markedly different, with two speedsters closest to the rails, and five American runners perched in the middle.
Capezzano and North America start from Gates 2 and 3 respectively, which is sure to set a strong pace from the outset in the $12 million finale of the nine-race card at Meydan.
“The truth is, it won’t be as easy,” Emirati trainer Bin Suroor said comparing Thunder Snow’s upcoming task to last year’s race. “Last year Christophe (Soumillon) gave him a good ride, pushed him all the way to be close to the rail.
“I hope this can happen again this year. The horse has come back well from his last race and has worked well.”
Thunder Snow wasn’t given a hard race last time out, finishing more than nine lengths behind Capezzano in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3, the trial race on Super Saturday, on March 9.
Soumillon used only hands and heels on that occasion and Bin Suroor added: “If he jumps well and finds a nice position, he'll have a chance to run another big race.”
The 10-time French champion jockey, who was atop Thunder Snow in all his six victories, said the five-year-old performed as expected three weeks ago.
“We knew he was going to need the run so, in the circumstances, he ran well for a long way,” he added. “The three weeks since should have put him spot on and the team are very happy with him.”
Emirati trainer Salem bin Ghadayer is triple handed in the race with Capezzano, Gronkowski and Axelrod.
“Capezzano is in good health and very happy and completely ready for the race,” said the Al Aryam Stables trainer. “Having said that, every horse has a chance in this race. I think it will be a fast-paced race with the front runners taking it on.
“Horses like Gronkowski and Axelrod like to pass other horses and they are ready for the race so we are really looking forward to it.”
Satish Seemar, the trainer of North America, was counting the days for the race to unfold.
“We’ve just got to wait for the hours to pass until Saturday,” said the Zabeel Stables trainer.
“I’m keeping a lid on everything because last year didn’t work out but I am thinking positively going into the race. It looks an open race.”
The American challenge consists of Seeking The Soul, Yoshida, Audible, Pavel and Gunnevera.
Pavel and Gunnevera are returning to have a second crack at the prize, having finished fourth and eighth respectively in past years.
Completing the line-up are Ahmad bin Harmash’s New Trails, Japan’s K T Brave and Dolkong representing South Korea.