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Quirky character Thunder Snow has redeemed himself by running a gallant second in the Group 1 Irish 2,000 Guineas after his performance at the start of the Kentucky Derby, testing jockey Christophe Soumillion’s riding skills in a bucking display.
While the tens of thousands of race goers were ready to see a show when the stalls opened for the Churchill Downs classic, Trainer Saeed bin Suroor did not want it to have been of that nature.
After coming into the race as one of the leading chances, Thunder Snow earned his trip to the first leg of the Triple Crown off the back of a successful winter in Dubai where had competently made the switch to dirt tracks. With victories in the Group 3 UAE 2,000 Guineas and Group 2 UAE Derby, last year's French Group 1 Criterium International winner, unfortunately, did not want to cooperate.
Being still a mystery to this day as to what sparked Thunder Snow’s antics, upon examination back at the barn, Thunder Snow was found to be in good order physically, with no outward explanation for his capers.
"In nearly 20 years I've never seen a Godolphin horse do anything like that before," said Trainer Bin Suroor. "We had him thoroughly checked over, and nothing has come up, so hopefully it was just one of those things. "
Returning home to the UK after Kentucky, Thunder Snow was back to his old self, working smartly on the grass gallops in Newmarket before the Group 1 Curragh start.
Running a gallant second to the English Two Thousand Guineas winner, Churchill, Trainer Saeed bin Suroor commented post race.
"It was a tough race as Churchill may be a superstar, but he gave a good show and proved the Derby is behind him."
“Thunder Snow ran very well. He did everything right during the race and was beaten by a better horse on the day.
“We will keep the options open for him, including the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.”
Thunder Snow is a close relation to Swettenham stallion, Trust In A Gust through his dam Subtle Breeze. Known to be quite the character herself, she is a half-sister to Thunder Snow’s grand-dam, Red Slippers by Nureyev.
Subtle Breeze is from the family that produced Champion European Three-Year-Old Filly Balanchine, winner of the Group 1 Irish Derby and the Group 1 English Oaks, while Red Slippers produced French Group 1 winner West Wind along with Eastern Joy, Thunder Snow’s dam.
Trust In A Gust boasts outstanding bloodlines on both side of his pedigree with his sire, Swettenham’s past resident stallion, Keep The Faith, a son of Japan’s immortal Kentucky Derby winning sire, Sunday Silence.
Trust In A Gust offers the Victorian breeding industry an impeccable pedigree that has outstanding northern hemisphere performers, including Thunder Snow in his black type producing family.
Thunder Snow’s looks to be back to top form, adding a Group 1 placing to his already impressive race record, and at the opening day of Royal Ascot on June 20, let’s hope we will be cheering him home in the Group 1 St James Palace Stakes.