Saeed bin Suroor is not concerned about Benbatl dropping back in trip for the Queen Anne Stakes as Royal Ascot gets under way with a cracking Group One contest on Tuesday.
A winner at the meeting last year in the Tercentenary Stakes, he took his form to another level in Dubai, winning three of his four outings, culminating in a clear-cut success in the Dubai Turf.
Having been tried over a mile and a half twice last season, that effort came over nine furlongs, but Bin Suroor, who has had a quiet start to the season, is convinced he has the speed for a mile.
“Benbatl beat some very good horses in the Dubai Turf. We gave him a break after that, but he is back now and ready to go again,” Bin Suroor told www.godolphin.com.
“This will be another very tough race for him, as he is taking on some top milers. But he has been working well and I have been happy with his preparation.
“Dropping back to a mile will be fine, especially the stiff mile at Ascot, and we are looking for another good result.”
With regular rider Oisin Murphy required for Lightning Spear, Christophe Soumillon has been booked.
Aidan O’Brien’s Rhododendron is favourite off the back of her win in the Lockinge Stakes, her third at the highest level and where she herself was dropping back in trip.
“We were very happy with what she did in the Lockinge,” O’Brien said in a stable tour for At The Races.
“Given it was her first really competitive run over a mile since the 1000 Guineas last year, I was impressed how well she coped with what was a well-run race.
“Sometimes it can take a horse a while to fully adjust to running back over a mile after running over middle-distances, so it wouldn’t be a big surprise if she could improve from Newbury.”
Lightning Spear is now seven, but David Simcock’s charge showed he is as good as ever at Newbury when narrowly coming off worse in a close finish.
“We were delighted with him in the Lockinge, but frustrated at the same time. We are looking forward to running him in the Queen Anne,” said Simcock.
“We have freshened him up, he has trained really well and I think he will go there in good shape.
“He has been a model of consistency and we are probably in the most open year he has ever been in regarding the top milers so we are hoping we get our day in the sun.”
Simon Crisford was around for many of Godolphin’s Royal Ascot winners in his long-standing role as racing manager and now has a genuine contender in his own name in the shape of the supplemented Century Dream.
Ed Crisford, assistant to his father, said: “Ground is important to him. It was drying ground at Epsom and he seemed to act on that.
“His form is rock solid and he is improving. He has comes through his handicaps and we have just been building him up slowly.
“He has been getting more confident in his racing. He did have a tendency to be a bit keen in his races, but he has grown up a lot.
“I think at the back end of this year and next year you will see a him develop into a really nice horse.”
Overseas interest is on Recoletos, trained in France, and the American challenger Yoshida, trained by Bill Mott.
Riley Mott, assistant to his father, said: “It’s a very competitive Group One and we have to respect everyone in the field, but we’re hoping we’ll be right up there with the top contenders.
“You always have to respect the Coolmore bunch and they’ve got a mare that won a Group One against the boys last time (Rhododendron).
“I have optimism in the horse, with how he’s travelled and the way he’s doing, and that gives us confidence to have a stab at it.”
Andrew Balding’s Beat The Bank won five of her first six races but has been well beaten in Group One races the last twice.
“I think he has come on for that run in the Lockinge,” said Balding.
“I am pleased with his work at home and he looks very well.
“There is obviously a question mark about the straight course at Ascot suiting him, but we will find that out once and for all on Tuesday. He is in fine fettle. “