Heavy Metal takes the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 by 4 1/2 lengths over Thunder Snow at Meydan

Heavy Metal takes the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 by 4 1/2 lengths over Thunder Snow at Meydan

Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins

Heavy Metal Cranks up Group 2 win at Meydan

Heavy Metal cruises over Thunder Snow in Maktoum Challenge R1.

Veteran Heavy Metal started his 8-year-old season the way he ended his 7-year-old campaign: He scored a stakes victory on the dirt at Meydan.

On Jan. 11 Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum’s Heavy Metal secured the most lucrative victory of his career when he scored by 4 1/2 lengths over Thunder Snow in the $250,000 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 presented by Longines Gents Masters Collection (G2) at Meydan.

After racing on the lead throughout the 1,600-meter (about one-mile) test while saving ground under jockey Mickael Barzalona, Heavy Metal entered the long stretch in front. While Thunder Snow was able to move into second, the two-time group 1 winner never seriously threatened Heavy Metal for the win. Heavy Metal completed the race in 1:37.8 on a fast track.

"These conditions really suit him and he has done nothing but improve, especially over the last year," Barzalona said. "He relishes this dirt surface and is showing on the track what he has displayed to us in his work at home in the mornings. He has always worked like a very good horse and has such a great, willing, attitude. He is easy to ride. We had a good draw and he broke well, so I was always going to go to the front and he enjoys those positive tactics. It has been a very good evening for the whole team and long may it continue throughout the year."

Trained by Salem bin Ghadayer, Heavy Metal secured his second straight stakes victory after closing out 2017 with a score in the Dubai Creek Mile Sponsored by Lincoln Continental. Barzalona said the 8-year-old Exceed and Excel gelding is in top form.

Heavy Metal was bred by Darley and is out of South African champion and group 1 winner Rock Opera, by Lecture.

While Godolphin’s Thunder Snow didn’t register a victory, the 4-year-old son of Helmet delivered a promising effort in his 4-year-old debut—his first start since finishing last in the QIPCO Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (G1) in October at Ascot. In placing second Thursday, Thunder Snow was much the best of the rest, finishing 7 1/2 lengths ahead of group 3 winner North America.

Last year Thunder Snow didn’t handle the off-track in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) and was pulled up soon after the start.

In the other group stakes on the card—opening day for the Dubai World Cup Carnival—Godolphin’s Benbatl opened his 4-year-old season with a 2 1/4-length victory in the Singspiel Stakes presented by Longines Ladies Master Collection (G3). Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, the son of Dubawi didn’t race at 2 then won three of seven starts last year, including a victory in the Hampton Court Stakes (G3) at Royal Ascot.

Benbatl, under Oisin Murphy, completed Thursday’s 1,800-meter (about 1 1/8-mile) test in 1:46.99 on good turf.