Dubai: When American Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert, attended the Post Position draw for the $10 million Dubai World Cup earlier this week, little did he know that the man seated next to him in the front row was plotting to steal his thunder in the big race on Saturday.
Baffert’s contender and red hot favourite West Coast, the American Champion three-year old was unfavourably drawn in stall 9 while Godolphin handler Saeed Bin Surour drew the dreaded No. 10 gate for his runner, Thunder Snow.
Baffert would bullishly assert that a good horse can win from any draw, while Bin Surour in contrast, acknowledged that he would have to go back to the drawing board and make a new plan.
But as things panned out, the irony of Baffert’s boast would result in the good horse that he was touting up being Thunder Snow and not West Coast.
He had possibly under-estimated the genius of Bin Surour, or paid scant regard to the practical plan he was hatching to cash in on the home advantage which Thunder Snow, and his supremely talented jockey Christophe Soumillon would utilise to the fullest in the race to pull off the most incredible of victories.
Baffert, who was chasing a fourth Dubai World Cup triumph, and second in a row following Arrogate 12 months ago, subtly paid tribute to Bin Surour in his post race comments. “We just ran into a winner that was really impressive tonight, he’s a really good horse,” acknowledged the American legend.
“He’s [Thunder Snow[ got some credentials and runs well here. He was just the better horse tonight.”
It has often been said the humility is the greatest quality that a man can have, and Bin Surour has bundles of it. Notwithstanding the coup he had pulled off in one of the greatest flat races on the planet, the former Emirati policeman remained down to earth while there was celebration all around.
In his right hand, he held the jewelled, golden whip that is presented to the winning trainer at every World Cup. It was the eighth time in his glittering career that he would do so, but it was just as significant for him as the very first time in 1999, when he won the race with Almutawakel.
“This is for my mother, she’s my inspiration,” he told Gulf News. “I am proud to be her son and I want to share this victory with her. This whip is a symbol of our mutual love and respect and what we have accomplished.
“I always believed that I had the horse to win this race, right from last year when he won the UAE Derby I began to make a plan to come back to compete for the Dubai World Cup. It has been a long year, with many ups and downs, but we never lost the faith,” he added.
“Thunder Snow is a very genuine horse so I was never really worried about the opposition. I only focused on ensuring that he would be in the best possible condition for the race. He knows the track like the back of his hand, so I always knew that would be a big advantage. Fortunately, I was proved right.”