UAE dominates 2018 Dubai World Cup meeting


Thunder Snow (IRE) and Christophe Soumillon winning the Group 1 Dubai World Cup, picture Liesl King
Thunder Snow (IRE) and Christophe Soumillon winning the Group 1 Dubai World Cup, picture Liesl King

The 2017-18 UAE season concluded on Saturday, March 31st, 2018, with the 23rd running of the Dubai World Cup, on the world’s richest day of racing at Meydan Racecourse with the meeting hosting nine Group races worth US$30 million.

This year the host country dominated the races with Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor winning the US $10 million feature Group 1 Dubai World Cup (2000m) on dirt for the eighth time with the Christophe Soumillon ridden Thunder Snow (IRE).

The winner of the UAE Derby on this card 12 months ago was smartly away from his outside berth in stall 10 and the Belgian born rider barely saw another rival as the pair strolled away to score by five and three-quarter lengths in a track record time of 2.01.38.

American legend Bob Baffert was looking for his fourth win in the race and after his Arrogate’s dramatic victory last year, he saddled the second and third with West Coast (USA) beating Mubtaahij (IRE) by a neck.

Thunder Snow’s win took his career tally to seven wins in 18 starts and provided bin Suroor with his eighth Dubai World Cup win from 42 runners, a record which towers across his rivals.

Thunder Snow also capped off a remarkable evening for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum as it was Godolphin’s fourth of the night, and the second leg of doubles for Soumillon and bin Suroor.

“Saeed gave me lot of confidence before the race. I wasn’t ready to ride him that positively and I thought there would be more speed on the inside. He jumped so well that I thought I would have to make it. The first time I rode him I thought that when he leads that no-one can beat him, but it is difficult to make it,” said Soumillon.

Bin Suroor added: “I am very happy with the horse and jockey. I told Christophe the horse has a good turn of foot and I told him to use it. The jockey is the best of the best.

“It was always on my mind to run him in the Dubai World Cup and he will have a break now, before running in Europe or America.”

Godolphin’s Hawkbill (USA) burst away from the pack to an early lead and never looked back, taking down the top prize in the US$6, Group 1 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (2400m) on turf.

Victory by the Kentucky-bred son of Kitten’s Joy gave Godolphin its third winner of the Dubai World Cup programme.

“He put it all together,” praised jockey William Buick of Hawkbill. “When he has an uncontested lead, he is a dangerous horse. I thought if he had things his own way, he would be a tough nut to crack.”

Trainer Charlie Appleby happily punched the air as Hawkbill soared past the finish line three lengths clear of runner-up Poet’s Word (IRE), who in turn was a neck in front of third-placed Cloth of Stars (IRE). The win was the second on the program for Appleby, who also sent out Godolphin’s Jungle Cat (IRE) to win the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint (1200m).

Benbatl (GB) gave Godolphin operation another the evening by repelling a strong challenge from Japan in the Group 1 Dubai Turf (1800m) on turf.

Trainer Saeed bin Suroor was annexing the US$6 million race, worth US$3.6 million to the winner, for the sixth time, but it was a first from three rides for jockey Oisin Murphy.

Murphy settled Benbatl no worse than in fourth place, as Janoobi made the pace. The leader had a four-length advantage turning into the straight, but Murphy had moved into second spot and was well placed to make his move.

Taking over at the 300m mark, Benbatl soon put daylight between himself and the rest of the field. Vivlos (JPN), last year’s winner, stayed on for second place, three and a quarter lengths behind the ready winner, with fellow Japan-trained Real Steel (JPN), the 2016 winner, and Deirdre (JPN) dead-heating for third prize.

Benbatl, a son of Dubawi, who ran the 1800m in 1:46.02, fairly close to the race record of 1: 45.54, was bred by Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley Stud, and to complete the family atmosphere on the night, the winning trophy was presented to Sheikh Mohammed’s daughter Sheikha Jalila.

Trainer Yasuo Tomomichi commented on Vivlos: “Was a bit slow out of the gate but she race well in the end and closed well. She ran really well.”

Trainer Yoshito Yahagi said of Real Steel’s dead heat for third: “He ran well today. The winner was just too strong, but he ran well.”