Saeed bin Suroor said on Friday that he plans to run stable stars Thunder Snow and Benbatl in the £1 million Juddmonte International Stakes at York Wednesday
Bin Suroor is seeking a fifth triumph in the mile and a quarter showpiece, which forms part of the Middle Distance category of the QIPCO British Champions Series.
It is shaping up into an epic encounter with five other Group 1 winners – Poet’s Word, Roaring Lion, Cracksman, Saxon Warrior and Without Parole – also in the mix.
Thunder Snow will be having his first run since landing the Dubai World Cup at Meydan in March. Benbatl was also successful on World Cup night and on his most recent start won another Group 1 contest in Munich.
“They are ready but will have a last piece of work tomorrow – just to blow out before the race,” the trainer said. “But so far I am happy with them.
“I know the race is going to be very tough – the best quality horses are going to run. But both of them are doing well.”
Christophe Soumillon will, as usual, ride Thunder Snow but it is unclear who will partner Benbatl.
The latter Benbatl will be making his second visit to York, having finished runner-up to Permian over course and distance in the Dante Stakes of 2017.
“The horse has really improved physically this year,” said Bin Suroor. “The key for him is that it has got to be good ground, really. He doesn’t like fast ground or soft. He is doing well. Oisin Murphy rode him last week and he worked really nicely.”
— Knightsbridge (@KBloodstock) August 3, 2018
The Juddmonte International Stakes, the last middle-distance QIPCO British Champions Series race before the QIPCO Champion Stakes provides the glittering climax to the category on QIPCO British Champions Day, is a race with a short but glorious history.
The event, run at York over 1 miles, 2 furlongs and 88 yards (2,090 metres), first appeared in 1972. But what an appearance! American-bred Roberto, a Derby winner and named after baseball star Roberto Clemente, became the first – and last – horse to beat Brigadier Gerard.
There have been other notable highlights in this Group 1 race for three-year-olds or older – Troy, the 1979 Derby winner, Commanche Run, the 1984 St Leger winner, two-time winner Halling and Giant’s Causeway, rated Europe’s top horse in 2000.
And then, of course, there was Sea The Stars, who took the race in 2009 – the same year he won an incredible six Group 1 races within six months, including the 2000 Guineas, Investec Derby and Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe.
Frankel captured the race in 2012 as he recorded his 13th success from as many starts with a seven-length demolition of his rivals. Derby winner Australia, won it two years later.
If you’re looking for the best quiz question concerning the Juddmonte International Stakes, then try this one – what is the family name of the jockey who has entered the winner’s enclosure six times? Answer – Dettori, with six wins (although only the last five of those went to Frankie. The first went to his father Gianfranco in 1976. That would have been a tad early for Frankie, who was five years old at the time).