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Thunder Snow & Blair House head G1 team for Super Saturday


2018 G1 Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow and defending G1 Jebel Hatta champion Blair House feature among a formidable Godolphin challenge for the two G1 feature races at Meydan, UAE, on Super Saturday, 9 March.

Thunder Snow (Saeed bin Suroor/Christophe Soumillon) bids to go one place better in the 10-runner G1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round Three Sponsored By Emirates Airline, having finished a clear second to North America in the 10-furlong contest on dirt 12 months ago.

He stormed to a comprehensive victory over the same course and distance in the G1 Dubai World Cup Sponsored By Emirates Airline on Dubai World Cup night later the same month.

The five-year-old Helmet horse makes his first appearance since finishing third in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, also over a mile and a quarter on dirt, at Churchill Downs, USA, at the start of November.

Drawn in stall two, he is joined in the G1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round Three Sponsored By Emirates Airline by Nordic Lights (Charlie Appleby/William Buick, drawn eight), who races on dirt for the first time after making all in a nine-furlong turf handicap at Meydan on Thursday, 7 February.

The lightly raced four-year-old has won on three of his six starts, including a debut success on Polytrack in a 10-furlong maiden at Lingfield Park in March, 2018.

Saeed bin Suroor commented: “We gave Thunder Snow a break after his run at the Breeders’ Cup because he had a hard season in 2018 – he ran four times in Dubai and then in the UK before having two starts in the USA.

“It was a long year for him, from January until November, and he deserved a rest afterwards.

“He is back now and did his final piece of work last Sunday, which went well. We also took him to Meydan last week, to work on the dirt there, and he looks to be in good condition at the moment.

“His main aim for the first part of the season is the Dubai World Cup again and this is a stepping stone towards that target. He will need this run and I expect him to improve for the race.”

Charlie Appleby said: “We were pleased with Nordic Lights on his two appearances so far this year, including an impressive win on his latest start.

“We felt that he might be able to adapt to dirt based on a few things that we have seen from him – he has good gate-speed and travels well in his races.

“We are well stocked in the Jebel Hatta, which was the only other option for him, and we feel that, while Thunder Snow will be very hard to beat, the rest of the field are quite evenly-matched.

“He has worked on the dirt at home, which is quite deep, and the sounder surface at Meydan should suit him better.”

Six-year-old Blair House (Charlie Appleby/Brett Doyle) tries to become the first dual winner of the nine-furlong G1 Jebel Hatta Sponsored By Emirates after displaying an excellent turn of foot when winning from another Godolphin runner, Benbatl, in the turf feature on Super Saturday last year.

The son of Pivotal makes his second appearance of 2019 in the 10-runner contest, having stayed on strongly from off the pace to finish fourth behind the re-opposing Dream Castle (Saeed bin Suroor/Christophe Soumillon) over the same course and trip in the G2 Al Rashidiya on Thursday, 24 January.

Dream Castle is unbeaten in both his starts this year, with the five-year-old also gaining a smooth victory over nine furlongs on turf at Meydan on his seasonal return in the G3 Singspiel Stakes on week one of the Dubai World Cup Carnival.

The five Godolphin contenders for the Jebel Hatta Sponsored By Emirates also include three others trained by Charlie Appleby, including First Contact (Mickael Barzalona) and Wootton (William Buick), who were third and fourth respectively in the G2 Zabeel Mile at Meydan on Thursday, 21 February.

Loxley (Charlie Appleby/James Doyle) readily captured the G2 Grand Prix de Deauville over an extended 12 furlongs at Deauville, France, in August and the four-year-old New Approach colt makes his Dubai debut following a close second in the 10-furlong G2 Prix Dollar at Longchamp, France, in October.

Charlie Appleby remarked: “Blair House won this race last year and ran well to finish second to Benbatl at G1 level in Australia in October.

“We were happy with his performance in the Al Rashidiya and he has definitely come on for that run.

“He needs a lot of luck of running, which he got in this race last year, but he is in good order and should be bang there if the gaps appear again.

“First Contact ran a nice race in the Zabeel Mile, and letting him race more forward on that occasion suited. We will try and keep it simple with him again and, if he runs up to his best form, he should be competitive.

“We were delighted with Wootton’s first start for the stable, when he settled well and met trouble in running up the straight, but finished the race strongly.

“He has come on for the run – his homework has been very good - and we feel that he is going to be very competitive on his first try over nine furlongs.

“Loxley was a nice, progressive three-year-old in Europe last year and the aim has always been to work backwards from G1 Dubai Turf on World Cup night. Hopefully, this run will put him spot on for that race.

“He raced over further throughout last season, but won over a mile and a quarter at Newmarket and Deauville, and was only just touched off in the Prix Dollar on his latest outing.”

Saeed bin Suroor reported: “Dream Castle has done very well out in Dubai, winning both his starts, and heads into Super Saturday in good order. His latest piece of work went very well.

“He has won a G3 and a G2 so far this season, but this is another big step up to G1 level. We have taken the same route as we did with Benbatl, who was second in this race last year, and I am hoping that Dream Castle can show a similar level of improvement.

“Everything has gone well so far this year – he has been gelded. We gave him a nice break before the season and I think we have found his best distance now.”