Bin Suroor Expects Big Things
Godolphin is well represented with three runners in the UAE Derby, including pre-race favorite Thunder Snow (IRE) who, along with stable companions Top Score (GB) and Fly at Dawn (USA), will try to give trainer Saeed bin Suroor an eighth victory in the race he last won in 2011.
Thunder Snow is a Group 1 winner in France as a juvenile last October and made a very successful local debut in the UAE 2000 Guineas over 1,600 meters, or about a mile, six weeks ago. The UAE Derby is 1,900 meters, or about 1 3/16 mile.
He again will have Christophe Soumillon aboard but didn't draw very well, getting post 13.
Adrie de Vries rides Top Score, who drew post 5. He won the 1,400 meter listed Meydan Classic as well as the trial for that race, in his two most recent outings. However, both were on turf races.
“It is a new trip for each of them,but both worked well earlier this week,” said Bin Suroor. “Thunder Snow has a touch of class,and we expect a big run, whereas Top Score is improving all the time.”
At the course and distance, the Al Bastakiya, was won by Cosmo Charlie (USA), who was never headed under Sam Hitchcott for trainer Doug Watson, but he also has a wide draw to overcome.
“We wanted a low draw but find ourselves in 15,” groaned Watson. “We are going to need some luck from out there, but at least the horse is in great form.”
South African Mike de Kock, has won the race six times and saddles Fawree (USA), who unseated Bernard Fayd’Herbe as the stalls opened in the Al Bastakiya. An impressive 1,600 meter maiden winner at Meydan prior to that, he has undergone stringent remedial work on his gate manners which, reportedly, have turned out well.
“He is a very good horse but always had an issue with the gates,” said de Kock. “Hopefully we have resolved that and he can put his best foot forward on Saturday.”
Perennial Irish champion trainer Aidan O’Brien won the race in both 2012 and 2013 with Daddy Long Legs and Lines Of Battle. He saddles both Lancaster Bomber (USA) and Spirit Of Valor (USA).
Ryan Moore rides the former, twice placed in group and grade 1 company last year and on paper the trainer’s best hope. However, observers say Spirit of Valor is bred to like dirt better. Neither horse has raced on dirt.
Lani won for Japan last year, and Epicharis (JPN) looks best of the country’s two contenders in a wide open renewal. Adirato (JPN) is also based in Japan.
Sixteen are entered in the UAE Derby. It's race 4 at Meydan on Saturday with an estimated post time of 9:25 a.m. ET.
Edited Dubai Racing Club release with additional content by Dick Downey
Photo by Dubai Racing Club