Thursday evening’s fifth meeting of the 2018 Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan Racecourse is a quality one with three feature races on dirt, as well as the Meydan Classic Trial on the turf.
Mike de Kock has just one runner in the evergreen former Piet Steyn galloper Sanshaawes, who lines up in the final event of the evening, the Reach By Gulf News Handicap over 2000m.
The official feature is the 1900m Gr2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 sponsored by Gulf News, a race Saeed bin Suroor has won no less than ten times, including in 2003 with subsequent Dubai World Cup hero Moon Ballad.
Some of the horses that have succeeded in this contest have gone on to win the Dubai World Cup, as well. Saeed bin Suroor’s 2014 Al Maktoum R2 winner Prince Bishop, was second in the 2015 renewal before landing that year’s World Cup. Stablemate African Story, who chased him home in 2014, then won the World Cup eight weeks later from Prince Bishop.
This year Suroor relies on Thunder Snow (Christophe Soumillon rides, post-position 8), a Gr1 winner as a juvenile and last year as a three-year-old in Europe. He also landed both the UAE 2000 Guineas (Gr3) and UAE Derby (Gr2) in 2017. The 4-year-old was second in the 1600m Al Maktoum Challenge R1 on his seasonal reappearance and his trainer expects the return to 1900m, the course and distance of his UAE Derby victory, to suit him.
“Thunder Snow has been doing well since his return in the first round and the step up in trip will suit,” bin Suroor said. “He is in good form, has been working well and is ready to go. We have a good record in this race and have won it with some very good horses.”