Thunder Snow (outside) wins the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 at Meydan Racecourse

Thunder Snow (outside) wins the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 at Meydan Racecourse

Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins

Siblings Lead 'Home' Team During Dubai Carnival

Thunder Snow reigns in Maktoum Challenge Round 2, Winter Lightning takes UAE Guineas.

Group 1 winner Thunder Snow and his half sister Winter Lightning produced a double victory for the Godolphin "home team" Feb. 8 at Meydan Racecourse as both staked claims for greater glory in the second half of the Dubai World Cup Carnival.

Thunder Snow, under Christophe Soumillon, raced patiently behind pacesetting North America until they turned into the stretch in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 Sponsored by Gulf News (G2). Given his cue, the 4-year-old Helmet colt worked right into contention and wore down the leader, winning by a head.

Heavy Metal contested the early pace and finished third, 4 1/4 lengths further back, as Thunder Snow completed the 1,900 meters (about 1 3/16 miles) in 1:57.94.

Thunder Snow finished second, four lengths behind Heavy Metal, in his seasonal debut at Meydan Jan. 11, the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 Presented by Longines Gents Master Collection (G2). That was his first race since Oct. 21 when he finished last in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes Sponsored by QIPCO (G1) at Ascot over soft turf. 

"From the last race, he has improved," said winning trainer Saeed bin Suroor. Asked if the Round 2 result makes Thunder Snow a contender for the $10 million Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1), bin Suroor said, "Sheikh Mohammed will decide."


In the UAE One Thousand Guineas sponsored by Friday, Thunder Snow's half sister, Winter Lightning, tracked pacesetting Rayya, edged by her as the pair straightened into the stretch and went along to win by two lengths. Rayya held second, 2 1/2 lengths ahead of Expressly

Winter Lightning, a Shamardal filly owned and bred by Godolphin, finished the 1,600 meters (about one mile) in 1:38.19 with Pat Cosgrove in the irons. It was her second Carnival win, following a narrow victory over Rayya in the UAE One Thousand Guineas Trial Sponsored by Al Maryah Island Jan. 18 going 200 meters shorter.

Both Winter Lightning and Thunder Snow were produced by Eastern Joy, a daughter of Dubai Destination.

"The family has always done well in the past and Winter Lightning is a strong filly," bin Suroor said. "She looks better physically compared to last year and the way she finished her race today shows that she can stay further in the future.

"We will aim her at the UAE Oaks (March 1) and plans from there will depend on how she gets on in that race. We will talk to Sheikh Mohammed about further plans, but we will keep the options open regarding the UAE Derby."


The Al Shindagha Sprint sponsored by found My Catch upstaging the favored Godolphin runner, Comicas, and 12-year-old Reynaldothewizard. My Catch, trained by Doug Watson and ridden by Pat Dobbs, played "catch me if you can" and they couldn't. Leading from the start, My Catch won by an easy four lengths. Comicas found a late burst of speed to edge Reynaldothewizard for second in the final jump.

My Catch, a 7-year-old Camacho gelding, finished 1,200 meters (about six furlongs) in 1:12.50.

The Al Shindagha points toward the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) on World Cup night—a race for which American sprint stars Roy H, Richard's Boy, 2016 runner-up X Y Jet, and last year's winner, Mind Your Biscuits, all hold nominations. Comicas was second in last year's Golden Shaheen, Reynaldothewizard won it in 2013, and both are nominated to this year's renewal, as is My Catch.