Benbatl will be swapping the unbeatable opposition of the great Winx for six Group Two rivals when he makes his belated reappearance in Friday’s Shadwell Joel Stakes at Newmarket.
Saeed bin Suroor’s five-year-old was last seen 11 months ago, vainly chasing the subsequently-retired Australian wonder mare Winx in the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley.
He had previously won his third Group One, in Caulfield’s Ladbrokes Stakes.
Over a mile on Friday, Benbatl returns against a field containing John Gosden’s St James’s Palace Stakes runner-up King Of Comedy and Roger Varian’s unbeaten Listed winner UAE Jewel.
Charlie Hills’ Pogo and Happy Power, from Andrew Balding’s stable, complete the three-year-old contingent – while Group Three winners Zaaki and Anna Nerium represent Sir Michael Stoute and Richard Hannon respectively.
Title-chasing Oisin Murphy is looking forward to his reunion with Benbatl.
He told Sky Sports Racing: “I love Benbatl – he’s been very good to me.
“I won two Group Ones on him last year and I’m delighted to get the opportunity to ride him again on Friday.”
The Shadwell Rockfel Stakes provides Group Two action too for the two-year-old fillies, and has attracted a field of nine.
Among them is Royal Ascot winner Daahyeh, one of three contenders for Varian – who has also declared maiden Stylistique, ridden by Frankie Dettori, and Alash Orda.
Aidan O’Brien’s Blissful, seeking a hat-trick after narrow wins at Tipperary and Leopardstown, is the sole Irish challenger.
Hannon’s Cloak Of Spirits, Mark Johnston’s Festival Day and Hugo Palmer’s Hot Touch are all lightly-raced novice winners chasing Group honours.
In the Group Three Princess Royal Muhaarar Stakes, Balding and Murphy join forces with Shailene as she bids to follow up last weekend’s Newbury win against eight opponents, including John Gosden’s Promissory and O’Brien’s Simply Beautiful.