Saturday’s Dubai World Cup proved a triumph for Team Godolphin, with the boys in blue scooping the three most valuable events.
Bob Baffert had hoped to land the Dubai World Cup for the second-year running, following Arrogate’s stunning success in 2017. West Coast was duly sent off a short-priced favourite but was firmly put in his place by the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Thunder Snow. A Group One winner at the three, the four-year-old has clearly flourished during his winter in Meydan. Sent to the front by Christophe Soumillon, he never looked in danger, romping clear in the latter stages for a five-length success. West Coast had tried to close him down in the home straight but lacked the gears to land a telling blow.
The winning trainer was clearly thrilled, when after the race he said: “This horse is brilliant. Christophe rode a great race. We spoke beforehand about what to do from the outside draw and he rode him to perfection. As soon as he was out the stalls and in a good position, I thought he would go well.”
The Thunder Snow show came little more than half an hour after Hawkbill had put in a stunning front-running performance to capture the Sheema Classic. Cloth Of Stars looked to be Godolphin’s leading hope but it was William Buick that got the fractions right aboard Charlie Appleby’s five-year-old, with the rest of he field finding it impossible to peg him back. Three lengths separated him from runner-up Poet’s Word, who battled on bravely to finish a neck ahead of Cloth Of Stars.
Buick had won the race 12 months earlier aboard Jack Hobbs and said of this impressive winner: “Physically he did well over the winter and we’ve always thought a lot of him. His run on Super Saturday got his head straight and his body right. He relaxed well in front and was in a lovely rhythm. It was going to take a good one to get past him.”
Appleby had earlier won the Al Quoz Sprint with Jungle Cat, following the late withdrawal of stable companion and Godolphin number one Blue Point. The boys in blue then captured the Dubai Turf when Benbatl proved far too good for a competitive looking field. The winner could now be aimed at Royal Ascot. Saeed bin Suroor clearly believes the horse is going places, saying: “We have thought a great deal about this horse over the last three years and he won for us at Royal Ascot last year (Hampton Court Stakes). He broke well tonight and had a nice position all the way. I wasn't surprised he won like that, because he had been working very well. The plan will now be to go back to Royal Ascot for the Prince of Wales's Stakes.”
Whilst Godolphin stole the show, Aidan O’Brien also had an impressive winner on the card, when three-year-old Mendelssohn destroyed the opposition, knocking more than a second off the nine-and-a-half-furlong track record to land the UAE Derby.
“Obviously we weren’t expecting that,” said O’Brien. “We were very happy with him after his win at Dundalk, we knew there was a lot of dirt in his pedigree and that he had a lot of speed, but we weren’t sure how far his speed would carry him. We’re over the moon. The lads paid a lot of money for him.”
Ryan Moore was also impressed: “He’s a very fast horse. It was his first time in front and he was still green in places. He’s high quality; second in a Dewhurst, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He’s getting better with every start. He’s very exciting.”
A trip to America for the Kentucky Derby is now on the cards. He’s as low as 5/1 for the Churchill Downs renewal on May 5; the same day as the 2000 Guineas from Newmarket.