Sport Horse Racing

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Sheikh hoping 'Snow' can rain on Kentucky parade

Trainer Saeed bin Suroor. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Trainer Saeed bin Suroor. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Marcus Armytage

If the build-up to Saturday's 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket is a classic case of British understatement then anticipation across the Atlantic ahead of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs the same day is reaching fever pitch. Much of the hype and hoopla this year surrounds the one-eyed 40/1 outsider Patch.

But if ever there was a year, without a standout contender, for Godolphin to have a crack at America's most desired race then it is this one when Saeed bin Suroor runs Thunder Snow.

The colt has already shown remarkable versatility in that he is a Group One winner of last year's Grand Criterium at Saint-Cloud on turf and the Group Two UAE Derby on dirt at the Dubai World Cup meeting in March.

That race's 'win and you're in' status for 'the Run for the Roses' and the fact that Godolphin's Greenham winner Barney Roy gives them a serious Guineas representative, means Sheikh Mohammed did not take much persuading to have another crack at the contest.

His best effort so far was China Visit, which Saeed bin Suroor trained to finish sixth behind Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000.

Thunder Snow is already settled in at the track and he will be ridden by Christophe Soumillon, who was at his strongest to get the Helmet colt home by a short-head from the Japanese runner Epicharis in the UAE Derby and is unbeaten in three starts on the horse.

Despite the UAE Derby being the eighth race of his career, Thunder Snow still appeared green at Meydan, looking up at the big screen and needing a powerful ride to force his head in front.

No foreign runner has ever come closer than Clive Brittain's Bold Arrangement, second to Ferdinand in 1986, and if Thunder Snow is easily distracted there will be no shortage of opportunities at Churchill Downs on Derby day.

"The horse is in good form," said Bin Suroor. "The Kentucky Derby will suit him well and he has won his last two starts on the dirt." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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