Godolphin runner set to contest the £1.1m prize over a mile
Saeed Bin Suroor has no doubt that his globetrotting star Benbatl will be ideally served by the demands of the QIPCO-sponsored Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
Bin Suroor also had the option of running Benbatl in the QIPCO Champion Stakes over two furlongs further but the trainer, who won that race with Farhh in 2013, reckons the stiff mile of the QEII, which carries prize-money of £1.1 million, will be perfect for him.
Benbatl signed off last year by chasing home the mighty Australian mare Winx in the Ladbrokes Cox Plate and re-emerged, 11 months later, to thrash King Of Comedy, Zaaki and Happy Power in the Group 2 Shadwell Joel Stakes at Newmarket last month.
His previous exploits include a win at Royal Ascot and Group 1 triumphs in Dubai, Germany and Australia. With an official rating of 126, he is among the highest-rated horses in the world.
Aidan O’Brien has saddled the QEII winner three times in the past decade – via Rip Van Winkle (2009), Excelebration (2012) and Minding (2016) – and his squad comprising Circus Maximus, Hermosa, I Can Fly, Magical and Magna Grecia all remain engaged.
The past two Queen Anne Stakes winners, Accidental Agent and Lord Glitters, are on course to run, while other Group 1 winners who remain in the mix are Phoenix Of Spain and Veracious.
Another to note is the French challenger The Revenant who was making it eight wins from ten starts when winning easily after more than four months off at Longchamp last time. Charm Spirit (2014) and Solow (2015) have been recent French-trained winners of the QEII.
WHAT THEY SAY:
Saeed Bin Surooor on Benbatl
“He’s always had class and won Group 1s in Germany, Dubai and Australia. He’ s a calm horse who is very easy and straightforward to train.
“The plan always been to give him a break this year and then bring him back September time. He won well at Newmarket and he has come back from the race really well.
“I’m happy with him going into the QEII. Sheikh Mohammed made the decision [to run in the QEII rather than the QIPCO Champion Stakes]. It’s a stiff mile and I think that’s the best race with him.
Richard Hannon on King Of Change
“He’s a lightly-raced colt who runs well fresh. He’s plenty fit enough and in great form. Since his very good second in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, we have deliberately given him a break and prepared him for the autumn.
“There was nothing flukey about his run in the Guineas. He proved that [when winning] at Sandown last time and he will come on a lot for that. He’s a horse for next year, don’t forget that, but if he ran a good race in the QEII then we would be delighted.
”He’s the sort of horse that might like soft ground. He’s big, strong and I think he will deal with that no problem.”
Charlie Hills on Phoenix Of Spain
“He was in the QIPCO Champion Stakes but I think we are better off keeping him on the straight mile for the QEII. I’ve been really pleased with him leading up to the race and he ran much better in France last time when he was doing all his best work late on.
“He ended getting a little bit too far back that day but he finished off his race much better than he had in his previous couple of races.
“Benbatl was mighty impressive last time and there are plenty of other Group 1 winners in there but it’s been an open mile division this year and, while it’s a competitive, it looks up for grabs.”
William Haggas on Move Swiftly
“Like all our runners on QIPCO British Champions Day, it’s a case of the softer the better. She’s had training issues but is a talented filly who goes well fresh and it did not surprise is when she won the Duke of Cambridge at Royal Ascot on her reappearance.
“She ran awful in France last time but the ground was much too firm for her that day. We’ve deliberately not run her since, but she’s got quite a bit to find on the book and I’m not sure she’s up to QEII level.”
Eve Johnson Houghton on Accidental Agent
The five-year-old won the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot last year but refused to race when defending his crown this summer. The trainer said: “Hopefully he decides to race! He’s given me the best day of my racing life and the worst. If I had to trade that off I would still take it, rather than having neither.
“He’s had a lot of physio and we’ve just got to hope he’s in the right frame of mind. It’s a shot to nothing for us. Wherever Lord Glitters finishes he should not be far behind, but Lord Glitters is a much shorter price than him.”
Accidental Agent (GB) Benbatl (GB) Century Dream (IRE) Imaging (GB) Lord Glitters (FR) Raising Sand (GB) Safe Voyage (IRE) The Revenant (GB) Zaaki (GB) Circus Maximus (IRE) Happy Power (IRE) I Can Fly (GB) King of Change (GB) King of Comedy (IRE) Magical (IRE) Magna Grecia (IRE) Mohaather (GB) Move Swiftly (GB) Phoenix of Spain (IRE) Veracious (GB) Hermosa (IRE)