Thunder Snow bids for landmark Kentucky Derby success

Godolphin will be represented in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday after Thunder Snow, an impressive winner of the UAE Derby on Dubai World Cup night, was confirmed as a runner for the USA’s most famous race. Sam Price reports

You only have to look at the roll of honour to get a sense of the prestige of the Kentucky Derby.

War Admiral, Northern Dancer and Secretariat were three of the most celebrated champions of the 20th century, but more recent winners of a race that forms the first leg of the US “Triple Crown” have included Animal Kingdom and California Chrome – both of whom would go on to achieve further glory in the Dubai World Cup.

This year one horse will go the opposite route, after His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, decided that Thunder Snow, an exciting winner of the UAE Derby at Meydan on 26 March, would take up the “win and you’re in” clause offered to winners of that race.

It will mark the tenth time that the royal blue silks of Godolphin have been carried in the iconic contest, which has been run since 1875 and is popularly known as the “Run for the Roses”, a reference to the blanket of more than 500 roses that is draped over each victor.

Saeed Bin Suroor has sent seven Derby contenders to Churchill Downs since 1999 without reward, but believes that Thunder Snow represents his best chance yet, having recovered well from his exploits in Dubai.

“The horse is in good form,” said the trainer. “He is sound, healthy and working really well, and I am so happy with him.”

A Group 1 winner on turf as a juvenile, the colt took the switch to dirt in his stride when becoming one of the stars of the 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival, comfortably winning the UAE 2,000 Guineas before showing his battling qualities to overcome Epicharis in a thriller on World Cup night. And crucially, the jockey who rode him to those two Meydan victories, Christophe Soumillon, will be back on board for his biggest test.

Bin Suroor, for one, can’t wait to see what the pair can achieve.

"It is great to see another horse from Godolphin travel to the Kentucky Derby as it is one of the best races in the world.

"Thunder Snow has improved a lot and it would be brilliant to see him run well."

The 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby takes place at Churchill Downs on Saturday 6 May