Saeed bin Suroor is eyeing an appearance on Champions Day at Ascot for Benbatl after the triple Group One winner proved his considerable ability remains very much intact with a dominant comeback victory in the Shadwell Joel Stakes at Newmarket.
The Godolphin-owned five-year-old won three times at the highest level in 2018 – running out a brilliant winner of the Dubai Turf at Meydan in late March before landing the Grosser Dallmayr Preis in Germany in July and the Ladbrokes Stakes in Australia in October.
Having been off the track since chasing home the wonder mare Winx when she made history with a fourth victory in the Cox Plate, Benbatl was a 4-1 chance on his return from an 11-month absence – and he was soon bowling along in front in the hands of Oisin Murphy.
Having initially been ridden with restraint, Frankie Dettori moved the high-class three-year-old King Of Comedy closer to the pace at the halfway stage of the one-mile contest, seemingly keen not to give Benbatl too much rope.
However, it was clear over a furlong out that the 6-5 favourite was struggling to close the gap and the further Benbatl went the better he looked, passing the post with five lengths in hand.
Bin Suroor said: “In the mornings he has been working really well – he showed his class in his last piece of work on the Watered Gallop.
“It was a hard season for him last year and he ran in many races, starting in Dubai. We talked to Sheikh Mohammed and decided to give him a break to start him at this time of year.”
RaceBets make Benbatl their 7-1 second-favourite (from 14-1) for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on October 19, while Betfair cut him to 8-1 from 10-1 for the Qipco Champion Stakes on the same card.
“We will keep the options open and I want to speak to the boss,” the trainer added.
“We will be looking at Group One races for him and we could take him to Ascot for the QEII or the Champion Stakes and there is also a race for him in Germany. After that I want to take him back to Dubai and run him in the big races there.
“He is a solid horse that has always tried really hard. Talking to Oisin he said he would have no problem being kept at a mile or going back to a mile and a quarter, but he showed plenty of speed.
“It was very important (to get him back on track). In the stable there is always a star and he is one of them. He is a Group One winner in the past and we are looking to keep him happy and healthy for the future.”
John Gosden was not too disappointed with the performance of King Of Comedy, who is also bound for Ascot next month.
“I was very happy with the run as he was taking on a fully matured five-year-old and a hugely talented horse,” said the Clarehaven handler.
“We will look towards October 19 and that was a prep race. He was not in love with running into the dip, but that would not have affected the outcome.”