Thunder Snow gets Gate 12 draw for Dubai World Cup title defence

Thirteen horses in the line-up for Saturday's big race at Meydan Racecourse

Thunder Snow won the Dubai World Cup from Gate 10 in 2018 and will have to do it from Gate 12 this year to be a repeat winner. AFP
Thunder Snow won the Dubai World Cup from Gate 10 in 2018 and will have to do it from Gate 12 this year to be a repeat winner. AFP

Thunder Snow may be bidding to become the first racehorse to win the Dubai World Cup twice, but for that to happen the Godolphin colt has to overcome a wide draw from Gate 12 in the 13-runner field.

Trainer Saeed bin Suroor had little choice after Thunder Snow’s name was second last to be picked during the draw ceremony at Meydan Racecourse on Wednesday.

“It was a long wait and with only the two widest gates to choose from,” said Bin Suroor, the Dubai World Cup's most successful trainer with eight titles dating back to 1996.

“He won last year from Gate No 10 but is in 12 this time. It’s still good from our side. I know the horse has a good turn of foot to take a good position early.

“However, I would have preferred a middle draw, perhaps in Gate 6. But the horse is in good form. He worked very nicely on Saturday. We now hope he jumps out well and take a nice position early in the race.”

North America was the first name to be drawn and his handler Satish Seemar picked Gate 3 for the seven-year-old who missed the break and trailed in last in the race 12 months ago. In 2018, North America was drawn in Gate 2.

“This year we have gone up a little bit, but three is a safe draw for him, and we were hoping like to get three to five for him, or even six,” the Zabeel Stables trainer said.

“He’s done absolutely nothing wrong this season. He’s good when fresh, and we allowed him a little more time by not running him on Super Saturday’s Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3. We hope it works out perfect for him.”

Salem bin Ghadayer’s Capezzano was drawn in Gate 2 and American raider Gunnevera in Gate 1.

“I believe in this horse and Gate 2 suits him fine for his style of running,” Bin Ghadayer said of Capezzano, winner of his last three starts, including the third leg of Al Maktoum Challenge over the Dubai World Cup course and distance.

“The distance was a concern but he has proved he can handle it. He used to be a bit tricky but with experience he’s much, much better than before. I’m now relaxed with his Gate 2 draw.”

Bin Ghadayer’s other two runners – Gronkowski and Axelrod – break from Gates 7 and 8, and the Emirati trainer said it suited their running style to be behind the early pace.

“They spent a lot of time in the quarantine before being shipped from the United States, and they will both come from their first outings [in Super Saturday on March 9] for this race,” he added.

Barring Gunnevera, the rest of the American horses were all drawn in the middle, with Audible, Seeking The Soul and Pavel in Gates 4, 5 and 6, and Yoshida in Gate 10.

Bin Suroor said the horses' "gate speed" and getting into a good position are just as key to their chances as is the the draw.

“There are some nice horses in the race but I’d just like to see Thunder Snow in a handy position,” he said. “Of course Thunder Snow has the experience of running at Meydan and it may be an important thing.

"But as much as that counts, it’s also important to have that class, the pace, and there are so many things you need to look.

“I brought him twice here on Super Saturday. He’s there now. The horse is doing good; he’s a class horse.”

Updated: March 27, 2019 07:42 PM


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