BENBATL BACK IN A BIG WAY
Godolphin’s Benbatl is far from done in his already decorated career and the 5-year-old winner of top-level affairs on three continents put an exclamation point on that sentiment with his return in this past Friday’s Group 2 Shadwell Joel Stakes at Newmarket. The son of multiple Group 1 winners Dubawi and Nahrain led from stalls to finish, decimating a field that included well-regarded 3-year-old King of Comedy, last-out Strensall Stakes (G3) winner Zaaki and previously undefeated UAE Jewel.
Hitting the wire five lengths in front and under minimal urging from Oisin Murphy, the Saeed bin Suroor trainee won for the first time from four tries at 1600m and impressed his pilot in the process.
“He looked amazing in the paddock and obviously is a big, strong horse bound to improve from his first run,” Murphy said. “He’s done so much for my career. He was my first Royal Ascot winner (in the 2017 Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes) and then (the Group 1 $6 million) Dubai (Turf). It was a super training performance by Saeed and his team. He’s beaten them without getting a smack. An incredible performance.“Hopefully he stays sound and they can train him how they like,” Murphy continued. “He’s pretty versatile from eight to 10 furlongs. It’s not often you see a horse of this quality.”
Bin Suroor was very pleased with the run, which kicked off a solid weekend for his division of Godolphin horses. He would win just an hour or so later with another DWC Carnival star, Mountain Hunter, in Listed company. A day later, he would land a Chelmsford handicap with opening night DWC Carnival winner Bin Battuta.
“We might take (Benbatl) to the ‘QE2’ or Champion Stakes,” he said. “There’s also a race in Germany. Then we will most likely take him back to Dubai and the big races there. We expect more from him in the future.”
Both the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and Group 1 Champion Stakes are at Ascot Racecourse on British Champions Day, October 19. The former is at the same 1600m distance of the Joel, while the latter is at the 2000m trip at which Benbatl has won Group 1s in Australia and Germany.
A three-time Meydan winner, Benbatl famously landed the Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World (G1) of 2018 in dominating fashion and carries some of the best class lines in training, having faced the likes of Enable, Winx and Roaring Lion. He currently carries a lofty Official Rating of 123 and earned a career-high-matching Racing Post Rating of 124 for Friday’s performance. He has a record of 8-3-1 from 17 tries and earnings just shy of $5.3 million.
MOUNTAIN HUNTER HITS NEWMARKET TARGET
Hard-trying Dubai World Cup Carnival alumnus Mountain Hunter (above, far right) broke through at the Listed level on Friday for trainer Saeed bin Suroor, landing Newmarket’s Mukhadram Godolphin Stakes in dramatic fashion under Oisin Murphy.
An also-ran in this year’s Group 1 Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World, the son of Lonhro was third-choice of the five runners behind the well-fancied duo of Mount Everest and Weekender, but it was Godolphin colour-bearer Loxley who swept by him 300m out and appeared a winner until idling in the final yards. Always the grinding type, Mountain Hunter kept chasing said rival and finally caught him in the final jump by the slimmest of noses.
The win was the homebred’s sixth from 17 tries and his first beyond the handicap ranks. A Meydan regular, Mountain Hunter has made eight starts in Dubai, including three DWC Carnival victories; two this year. He was 12th of 13 in Almond Eye’s crowd-pleasing Dubai Turf annex in March.
“I wasn’t sure crossing the line and I hate to second-guess it, as there’s no worse feeling than losing one in a photo-finish,” Murphy said. “Loxley sat behind and the pace wasn’t very fast because Weekender didn’t break. I hadn’t ridden Mountain Hunter in a long time (since September 2018) and it turned into a bit of a sprint. I drifted right under pressure (from Loxley). He was hard to pick up again. This is a tough horse and it was a nice race. Mountain Hunter has given me another win in these colours for Saeed.”
OLD PERSIAN STRAIGHT TO BREEDERS’ CUP; ISPOLINI JOINS CROSS COUNTER IN MELBOURNE CUP
Trainer Charlie Appleby has confirmed that 2019 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) winner Old Persian (right) will not have another prep before the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park in California, USA. The son of Dubawi exits a one-sided victory in the Northern Dancer (G1) at Canada’s Woodbine.
“(Old Persian will go) straight there,” said 2019’s champion Dubai World Cup Carnival trainer.
Only two winners of the $6 million Sheema Classic have attempted the Breeders’ Cup Turf double in the same year and both failed to hit the board, Fantastic Light (2000, though he would win the Turf the next year) and Sulamani (2003).
He also attested that two-time 2019 DWC Carnival winner Ispolini, second in the Group 2 $1.5 million Dubai Gold Cup sponsored by Al Tayer Motors to Cross Counter in March, will follow said yard-mate to Australia to compete in the prestigious Melbourne Cup (G1) on Nov. 5. Last year, Cross Counter won the rich 3200m handicap in deep-closing fashion.
Ispolini exits a workmanlike victory in the Deutsches St Leger (G3) in Germany. The win was his second Group 3 of the year, following the Nad Al Sheba Trophy in February, which was a month prior to the Dubai Gold Cup. Between the Dubai Gold Cup and German St Leger, he was a respectable fourth in the G2 Yorkshire Cup in May.
“He was second to Cross Counter in Dubai earlier in the year and ran well behind Stradivarius in the Yorkshire Cup,” Appleby said earlier this week. “He got a bit tired the other day, which he was entitled to, and hopefully that will leave him spot-on for Australia.”
IN BRIEF: DWC Carnival winner and fan favourite Prince of Arran (above) leads four horses with Meydan form, including three DWC Carnival winners, who have arrived in Melbourne for Australia’s Spring Racing Carnival. The 2018 Melbourne Cup (G1) place-getter is joined by Jebel Hatta (G1) winner Dream Castle, 8-year-old 12-time Meydan runner Red Galileo and Dubai Gold Cup (G2) fourth Gold Mount… Versatile UAE 1000 Guineas (Listed) winner Silva continues to improve, having just landed the Prix Bertrand de Tarragon (G3) in front-running fashion on Sept. 21 for trainer Pia Brandt. The daughter of Kodiac now has victories on dirt, turf and all-weather… Trainer Satish Seemar has reported that Kinver Edge, the AED 500,000 (about $136,000) Racing in Dubai Sale topper, has settled in well to his Zabeel yard and will tentatively be pointed toward the DWC Carnival… Deirdre, who was fourth and third in the last two Dubai Turf (G1) editions, is currently leaning toward running on British Champions Day, but is also under consideration for Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, according to officials. The well-travelled mare exits a tough-luck run in the Irish Champion (G1) at Leopardstown and her next start will be ground-dependent, as she prefers a quicker going… Team Valor International has reported that Jockey Club Derby winner Spanish Mission will be considered for Dubai in 2020 and presumably a go at the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic… In Ireland, trainer and DWC Carnival regular David Marnane has stated that Alfredo Arcano will likely return for the 2020 showcase and focus toward dirt racing. The swift sprinter was third this week in a five-furlong Dundalk affair and raced three times during the 2019 Carnival, including a good fourth by a half-length in a Jan. 10 handicap. A liking to the dirt would not be a surprise, as all but one of his eight wins have come on Dundalk’s all-weather surface.
Latest posts by S. Jack Heffernan Ph.D (see all)
- Asian Market Update - October 25, 2019
- American Airlines Up, Evidence the Trump Economy is Strong - October 24, 2019
- Google Under Siege in France - October 24, 2019