Lightning And Thunder At Meydan

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Thunder Snow passes North America | DRC/Andrew Watkins

Godolphin mare Eastern Joy (GB) (Dubai Destination) had her already lofty reputation boosted at Meydan on Thursday when two of her progeny picked up black-type wins. Thunder Snow (Ire) (Helmet {Aus}), already a dual Group 1 winner, took the featured G2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2, while Winter Lightning (Ire) (Shamardal) opened the card with a victory in the Listed UAE 1000 Guineas.

Thunder Snow, a distant second first-up to Heavy Metal (GB) (Exceed and Excel {Aus}) in the G2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 on Jan. 11, was kept three wide and out of trouble by Christophe Soumillon while lying much closer to the pace this time, which was set by North America (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}), with Heavy Metal splitting them. Put to a drive turning for home, Thunder Snow used the length of the stretch to grind down the lead of North America and hit the line a neck the best, with Heavy Metal fading late but hanging on for third from last year’s winner Furia Cruzada (Chi) (Newfoundland).

Thursday, Meydan, UAE
AL MAKTOUM CHALLENGE R2 (SPONSORED BY GULF NEWS)-G2, $250,000, MEY, 2-8, NH4yo/up & SH3yo/up, 1900m, 1:57.89, ft.
1–THUNDER SNOW (IRE), 125, c, 4, by Helmet (Aus)
1st Dam: Eastern Joy (GB), by Dubai Destination
2nd Dam: Red Slippers, by Nureyev
3rd Dam: Morning Devotion, by Affirmed
O-Godolphin; B-Darley (IRE); T-Saeed bin Suroor; J-Christophe
Soumillon. $150,000. Lifetime Record: MG1SW-Fr, G1SP-Eng &
Ire, 16-6-4-2, $2,301,476. *1/2 to Ihtimal (Ire) (Shamardal),
MGSW & G1SP-Eng, GSW-UAE, $554,857; Always Smile (Ire)
(Cape Cross {Ire}), SW & MG1SP-Eng, $217,288; First Victory
(Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}), GSW-Eng; and Winter Lightning (Ire)
(Shamardal), SW-UAE, $212,553. Werk Nick Rating: A+++
*Triple Plus*. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–North America (GB), 126, g, 6, Dubawi (Ire)–Northern
Mischief, by Yankee Victor. (100,000gns wnl ’12 TATNOV)
O-Ramzan Kadyrov; B-Qatar Bloodstock Ltd (GB); T-Satish
Seemar. $50,000.
3–Heavy Metal (GB), 126, g, 8, Exceed and Excel (Aus)–Rock
Opera (SAf), by Lecture. O-Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al
Maktoum; B-Darley (GB); T-Salem bin Ghadayer. $25,000.
Margins: NK, 4, 1HF.
Also Ran: Furia Cruzada (Chi), Second Summer, Eragon (Arg). Scratched: Grendisar (Ire), Cosmo Charlie.
Click for the Racing Post result. VIDEO.
Thunder Snow, winner of France’s G1 Criterium International at two, was recording his third win from four tries at Meydan, having taken last year’s G3 UAE 2000 Guineas and G2 UAE Derby. Given a shot at the GI Kentucky Derby after displaying an affinity for the dirt, the bay created a bizarre scene when pulling himself up and throwing a bucking fit just metres from the starting gate. Connections regrouped and dropped him back to a mile on the turf for the G1 Irish 2000 Guineas three weeks later, where he was much better behaved when finishing second to Churchill (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). He went even closer a further three weeks later in Royal Ascot’s G1 St James’s Palace S., finishing third and 1 1/4 lengths off Barney Roy (GB) (Excelebration {Ire}), and at last he broke through at the top level again when returning to France for the G1 Prix Jean Prat in July, again over a mile on the grass. Thunder Snow missed another Group 1 by just a quarter length when third in the G1 Prix Jacques Le Marois, and was put away after finishing a puzzling last in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II S. on British Champions Day. Returning in Round 1 four weeks ago, Thunder Snow finished second after likely sitting too far out of it on the speed favouring track.

“Basically, I think he was the best horse in the race and I rode him accordingly,” Soumillon said. “His stamina was never an issue, whereas the other pair are quick horses who had more early speed. My horse actually wanted to go after them earlier in the back straight, but I was happy to take my time and wait until the home straight. He then won well in the style of a good horse. I actually said to Saeed he gives me a better, more natural feel, on turf whereas, on dirt, I think his class gets him home.”

Pedigree Notes…

After Winter Lightning had won earlier on the card, the Darley-bred Eastern Joy has now produced five stakes winners from five foals of racing age. The first of those was Ihtimal (Ire) (Shamardal), who also excelled on this track, albeit on the all-weather, when taking the G3 UAE Oaks and Listed UAE 1000 Guineas, and who, like her half-brother, was also good on the turf, winning the G2 May Hill S. and G3 Sweet Solera S. and finishing third in the G1 1000 Guineas and G1 Fillies’ Mile. The mare’s second foal, Always Smile (Ire) (Cape Cross {Ire}), was a listed winner and second in the G1 Sun Chariot S., while First Victory (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}) took the G3 Oh So Sharp S. Thunder Snow is the first colt out of Eastern Joy, but she has another to come in a yearling son of Dubawi (Ire).

A glance at the pedigree shows it is no surprise that Eastern Joy has excelled in her second career; while she was herself just a minor winner in France, there is class sprinkled across the page. She is a daughter of Red Slippers (Nureyev), winner of the Sun Chariot S. when it was a Group 2, and who produced the G1 Prix de Diane winner West Wind (GB) (Machiavellian). Red Slippers is a half-sister to that classy mare Balanchine (Storm Bird), winner of the G1 Irish Derby and G1 Irish Oaks. Click for the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.

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