Benbatl heads the home defence as 21 horses remain in contention for Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.
While Saeed bin Suroor’s runner is the shortest-priced of the British hopes, he looks set to face some stiff opposition, with Francis-Henri Graffard’s The Revenant having been well supported since his easy win at ParisLongchamp on Arc weekend.
Aidan O’Brien also boasts his a strong hand, with 2000 Guineas winner Magna Grecia possibly having his first run since a shock defeat in the Irish equivalent back in May and St James’s Palace Stakes winner Circus Maximus also in the mix.
Benbatl booked his place in the line-up when winning last month’s Joel Stakes at Newmarket, on what was his first start since finishing second to all-conquering Australian mare Winx in last year’s Cox Plate.
However, with the going on the straight track currently described as heavy, Bin Suroor is wary of conditions.
“I’d love for the ground to be good to soft, but they are saying it is heavy and he will not like that,” said Bin Suroor.
“He ran at Haydock on it once and he didn’t like it at all. That was two years ago.
“The stiff mile is perfect for him, but he would love the ground to be good to soft.
“We’ll check the ground on the day of the race, but more than likely he will run. We just hope the ground isn’t heavy – nobody really wants that for a Group One.”
O’Brien’s three other contenders – Magical, Hermosa and I Can Fly – are also still in the Champion Stakes at this stage.
Phoenix Of Spain, who won the Irish 2,000 Guineas, could try to get back on track for Charlie Hills, with David O’Meara’s Lord Glitters and Eve Johnson Houghton’s Accidental Agent other previous Group One winners in contention.
King Of Comedy is John Gosden’s sole challenger, Sir Michael Stoute has Veracious and Zaaki to pick from and Marcus Tregoning could saddle Mohaather, who has been off the track since winning the Greenham in the spring.