Richard Mullen is confident North America can put his nightmare run of last year behind him as lines up in Saturday’s Dubai World Cup at Meydan.
The seven-year-old finished last of 10 runners in the Group One event 12 months ago after missing the break, but after two wins from two starts at Meydan this year, Mullen is confident his mount can put that reverse behind him.
He said: “I’m privileged that I’m on the favourite and have got absolute faith in the horse. He has been exceptional so far this year.
“After he disappointed last year, my son stood by the door of the weighing room and said ‘Dad, that wasn’t meant to happen’, but it just summed up the fact that they are horses and not machines.
“Ever since I’ve looked forward to us getting another chance and happily the horse is safe and sound. He’s got to step up his game, but we think he can.
“I have two early rides and then a big gap so I will get the butterflies for sure, but once I jump on him in the paddock, all that will go.
“I hope he gets a true race to erase last year’s nightmare. When we drew the three box I thought that’s good, because I’m happier being on the outside of Capezzano. It means I can be intimidating if I need to.”
North America has triumphed in two rounds of the Maktoum Challenge, winning the first more easily than the latest.
Mullen added: “He’s a big unit and surprised us first time when he just demolished them. In Round Two he was run quite close in the end, but then again I was closing my horse down in the last 50 yards because he’d done enough.
“It’s the world’s biggest race and for a man that has spent more than 30 years here in Dubai, it would be the crowning moment of my career. I’ve been with Satish (Seemar, trainer) for 15 years and of course it would set me up financially, but I’m not planning on any retirements whatever happens.
“And while North America and Thunder Snow dominate the betting, there are three proper American horses that I greatly respect.
“Yoshida, Audible and Seeking The Soul are all capable of winning, so I must ensure we don’t get hooked into a speed duel.”
Saeed bin Suroor is equally bullish about Thunder Snow’s bid to become the first dual winner of the Dubai World Cup.
The trainer has already mapped out an overseas campaign for his charge after Saturday that could take in races in New York and Saratoga ahead of another shot at the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
He said: “He won from stall 10 last year, and so I was disappointed that he got 12 this time, but what made me relax is that he can jump.
“That’s what I said to Christophe (Soumillon, jockey) last year – whatever happens, you have to jump – and he must do it again. The one thing you know is that this horse is very professional wherever he runs and whenever he works.
“He needed his race on Super Saturday, and showed me that he’s improved in some very good work last Saturday and also in a lighter gallop this morning.
“He’s a fighter that has always tried hard, ever since he arrived, and will give you everything. It would be a great piece of history were he to win, and a ninth World Cup for me even, though we had to wait eight years after 2006 until African Story.”