Saeed bin Suroor would really like to watch his star Benbatl register a first Group One victory on British land in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.
The five-year-old won top-level prizes in Germany Dubai and Australia in 2018 – until rounding off his campaign by chasing home the mare Winx when she created history with a victory that was fourth in the Cox Plate.
Despite the absence, Benbatl appeared better than when running a hugely-impressive winner of this Joel Stakes at Newmarket out three weeks ago, and Bin Suroor – bidding for a record QEII success on Saturday – has been thrilled with his charge.
He explained:”He worked Saturday – he is in good shape and is about to run. We’re very pleased and looking ahead to Saturday. He is a horse that is calm, who is very easy and straightforward to train.”
The 1 caveat concerning Benbatl is that the prevailing testing conditions in the Berkshire track.
Bin Suroor plans to consult jockey Oisin Murphy after he has ridden James Fanshawe’s The Tin Man in the Qipco British Champions Sprint – which starts the card – before affirming the participation of Benbatl.
“Our jockey will ride in the race (on the right track) before, and inform us what he believes,” the coach added.
“The horse is in great shape – he has won Group Ones at Dubai, Germany and Australia, and he needs to win in England.”
On the day he is going to be crowned champion jockey for the first time,” Murphy is hopeful that Benbatl will give him reason for celebration.
He said:”I had a huge win in Dubai along with a Group One in Germany on him. He had a bit of time off after the Cox Plate – but he slipped back, winning the Joel Stakes by five lengths at Newmarket.
“He is a very unique horse – he is among the greatest horses in the world.
“He’s rated 126, also that I encourage everyone to look at him in Ascot. He’s from the normal.”
Aidan O’Brien has four successes from the QEII for his name, also this year relies on Grecia.
Winner of the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in early May, the Invincible Spirit colt hasn’t been viewed three weeks later since finishing fifth in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh.
O’Brien stated:”We’re very satisfied with himand he’s had plenty of work. He was originally going to operate at York (Juddmonte International) and then Leopardstown (Irish Champion Stakes), but we’ve put it off until here.
“We had been giving him more time, because other horses kept stepping into his slotmachine, so we’ve given him too long as we can – but we are very happy now.
“He had a hamstring injury, but he’s prepared to return today. It simply took a long time to settle down.”
Trainer Francis-Henri Graffard hopes as he goes in search of a seventh straight triumph, ante-post bet The Revenant to revel in the testing floor.
Even the Dubawi gelding was accessible at double-figure chances in his romp at the Group 2 Prix Daniel Wildenstein’s aftermath in ParisLongchamp but is now favourite in the palms of Arc-winning jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot.
Graffard has enjoyed a memorable year, with claimed his first traditional victory with Watch Me in the Coronation Stakes throughout also a Royal Ascot victory plus French Oaks heroine Channel – and is relishing the chance to add a Qipco British Champions Day win for his CV.
“That which is great, and I am very satisfied with the horse’s state,” said the coach.
“We all know the floor won’t be an issue for himand we are looking forward to the race.
“This is a step up – moving to a Group One – but we still don’t have a lot of option and we are extremely pleased to be operating in this race.”
Having landed the two renewals of the QEII with Roaring and Persuasive Lion respectively, John Gosden saddles King Of Comedy – runner-up to Benbatl in the Joel Stakes.
The Clarehaven handler stated:”He ran into a leading horse in top form out time.
“I was rather impressed by Benbatl. He won in tremendous style – it was us, and somebody had to be second.
“I take nothing from the winner and believe he can take all of the beating again, but we are running under somewhat different conditions.
“When we manage that floor, then I believe King Of Comedy will conduct a huge race.”
The Richard Hannon-trained King Of Change has conducted only once because fulfilling the area behind Grecia – winning the Fortune Stakes at Sandown .
Hannon stated:”He’s a lightly-raced colt who runs well fresh. He fit and in terrific form.
“Because his really excellent second from the Guineas, we’ve deliberately given him a break and prepared him to the fall.
“He’s a horse for the next year, remember that – but if he ran a good race in the QEII, then we would be delighted.
“He is a big, powerful horse – and that also I think he will take care of the soft earth, no problem.”
Phoenix in his first start of the season won the Guineas for Charlie Hills Of Spain, but has been mostly disappointing in three starts.
“I have been really delighted with him leading to the raceand that he also ran far improved in France last time (fifth in Prix du Moulin) if he had been doing all his best work on,” said Hills.
“Benbatl was mighty impressive last season, and there are plenty of other Group One champions in there, but it has been an open mile branch this year -and while it’s competitive, it seems for grabs.”
David O’Meara is represented by course expert Lord Glitters. The gray won the Balmoral Handicap on this card, and landed the Queen Anne back in June.
The Queen Anne winner Accidental Agent, also a regular rival of Lord Glitters of last year conducts – because does Marcus Tregoning’s Mohaather, who’s been off the track since winning the Greenham Stakes in April.
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