Dubai: Thunder Snow handed Godolphin their first win of the night with an exhilarating run and win by a nose from Japanese challenger Epicharis in the Group 2 $2 million UAE Derby at the Meydan racetrack on Saturday.
The win from the Dubai-based stable denied Epicharis the rare possibility of becoming the second Japanese horse following last year’s champion Lani in the 1, 3/16-mile dirt fixture for Northern Hemisphere 3-year-olds and Southern Hemisphere 4-year-olds.
Abdullah Mohammad Juma Al Naboodah, Chairman, Saeed & Mohammad Al Naboodah Holding LLC was joined by Hamad Abdullah Mohammad Juma Al Naboodah, Deputy General Manager, Al Naboodah Real Estate Investment LLC in presenting the trophies to the winning combination.
Saeed Bin Surour was convinced in the ability of this colt of Helmet and Eatern Joy. “He has shown it more than once in the past while winning a Group 1 in France followed by the Guineas and then in the UAE Derby. And this evening’s performance definitely shows that he is something special,” Bin Surour said.
“And to us it shows that he has a future as well. Look at that finish. It simply meant that he has a big heart and the rest was left to the jockey. He didn’t disappoint us or the horse,” he added.
It was a second Japanese challenger Adirato taking the early initiative with Epicharis and Cosmo Charlie in hot pursuit. Epicharis made a sudden move just past the halfway mark to lead by a couple of lengths even as Adirato tried to keep pace. With 900 metres gone and the left rail approaching it was Brazilian runner Vettori Kin and Mike de Kock’s three-year-old American colt Fawree pushing towards a likely tight finish.
It was then that Godolphin jockey Christophe Soumillon made his move on the outside egging his ride towards the Kiyoshi Hagiwara-trained Epicharis to win by the barest margin of a nose.
Jockey Soumillon said he managed to pull his ride back on track midway through the race. “And all along I was confident even though he showed signs of getting scared a couple of times. But I managed to rein him in each time. And then, as he came into the last turn, he put his nose completely on the left and didn’t turn well,” Soumillon said.
“But once I came onto the straight he was just waiting for that sprint. I was trying to get him to concentrate and come close from the near horse. But unfortunately when we arrived at the 200-metre mark he got scared and changed legs and hung. I told myself that I needed to concentrate, and that’s exactly what I did while bringing him home,” the jockey added.
RESULTS: 1. Thunder Snow (Saeed Bin Surour/Christophe Soumillon); 2. Epicharis (Kiyoshi Hagiwara/Christophe Lemaire); 3. Master Plan (Todd Pletcher/John Velazquez); 4. Lancaster Bomber (Aidan O’Brien/Ryan Moore); 5. Fly At Dawn (Charlie Appleby/William Buick); 6. Qatar Man (Marco Botti/Colm O’Donoghue); 7. Fawree (Mike de Kock (Bernard Fayd’ Herbe); 8. Spirit of Valor (Aidan O’Brien/Seamie Heffernan); 9. He Runs Away (Ricardo Colombo/Silvestre de Sousa); 10. Vettori Kin (Kenneth McPeek/Joel Rosario); 11. Top Score (Saeed Bin Surour/Adrie De Vries); 12. Adirato (Naosuke Sugai/Yutaka Take); 13. Cosmo Charlie (Doug Watson/Patrick Hobbs); 14. Nomorerichblondes (Ahmad Bin Harmash/Antonio Fresu); 15. Bee Jersey (Doug Watson/Sam Hitchcott); 16. Midnight Chica (Dhruba Selvaratnam/Christopher Hayes).