Thunder Snow wins 2019 Dubai World Cup in thrilling photo finish

Godolphin horse becomes first to win the world's richest race more than once, successfully defending the title he won last year

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Godolphin’s Thunder Snow made history on Saturday night by becoming the first horse to win the Dubai World Cup twice.

The five-year-old, who won the 2018 event, came out on top of a thrilling duel in the final stages with Gronkowski to put his name in the record books.

It capped a superb night for the racing operation, owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, as they picked up four victories from the nine races held at Meydan Racecourse.

Old Persian won the Dubai Sheema Classic, Blue Point prevailed in the Al Quoz Sprint and Cross Counter triumphed in the Dubai Gold Cup.

But it was Thunder Snow’s late charge that was the highlight.

Drawn second widest of the 12 runners, jockey Christophe Soumillon, who had ridden him to success in 2018, had Thunder Snow quickly out of the gate and with the pace in the front.

North America led from the outset with Gronkowski in second and Thunder Snow third.

But it became a private duel between Thunder Snow and Gronkowski on the final run to the line.

Thunder Snow though held on though, giving trainer Saeed bin Suroor a record-extending ninth win of the race.

“The Dubai World Cup has been extremely kind to me and to have the pleasure of training a horse like Thunder Snow is something that’s hard to describe,” Bin Suroor said.

“I have always dreamed that he could win one World Cup, but to become the first horse to win two is something I am finding hard to believe.

“He is a fantastic horse and has such a professional approach to everything he does.

“This is a brilliant result for the entire Godolphin team. Everyone worked very hard and Sheikh Mohammed gave his instructions last year after he won the Dubai World Cup and he was happy to see him win again.”

Bin Suroor paid tribute to the importance of Soumillon’s role.

“The Emirati put a brave face on Wednesday’s draw, which had left a wide starting position, but acknowledged that it had been critical to their race chances that Thunder Snow had got away fast, something he and Soumillon achieved.

“Christophe needs to take a lot of the credit, as he has formed such a wonderful relationship with him.

“The two of them get on so well and from his stall on the outside, Christophe knew the only way he could win the race was to become competitive straight away.”

Soumillon admitted they had been pushed to the limit by Gronkowski, and that it had been a tough ask to come out on top.

“It was very hard,” said the Frenchman. “I was more looking like a Cheltenham jump jockey in the end than an American style jockey but you need to get him going and sometimes you need to do something different.”

Despite missing out on a victory in the world’s richest race, there was nothing but pride from Amer Abdulaziz, owner of Pheonix Thoroughbreds, for Gronkowski’s efforts.

“He’s run a great race,” he said. “I can’t believe he was so close.

“When you come that far and you get beaten by such a narrow margin, it is so frustrating, but this is also a victory for us.

“In the end, we were beaten by a better horse but our horse is a great horse.”

A late charge got Gunnevera a surprise third spot and jockey Emisael Jaramillo said: “He finished so good even with the position no good.

“He gave me everything. He tried so hard.  He has so much heart. He gave me all. He was excellent.”