Top-class turf performer Benbatl will make his debut on dirt at Meydan on Thursday in the second round of the Al Maktoum Challenge.
Saeed bin Suroor’s six-year-old has already made one appearance at the Carnival when cruising to victory in the Singspiel Stakes, but the son of Dubawi will now try a different surface.
“Benbatl won well in the Singspiel Stakes and has improved for his first start of the year,” Bin Suroor told www.godolphin.com.
“He is in good form and has been working well on the Tapeta at home, although racing on dirt for the first time will be different.
“His Highness Sheikh Mohammed approved of the decision to try Benbatl on dirt to see if he enjoys the surface, so that we can make a decision on his future. He is a class horse and we want to see him win.”
It will be far from an easy introduction, though, as he faces Gronkowski, runner-up in last year’s Dubai World Cup.
He has only been seen once since then, when third in December. The two are well clear on official ratings and have both been allotted a slot in the inaugural Saudi Cup, should connections opt to run in the world’s richest race later this month.
Also on the card is the UAE 2000 Guineas, in which American trainer Doug O’Neill runs Fore Left, who has UAE Derby ambitions and will be ridden by William Buick, while Bin Suroor sends out two runners in Laser Show and Colour Image.
“Laser Show won nicely over nine and a half furlongs in the Al Bastakiya Trial, when the visor helped him focus,” said Bin Suroor.
“He is dropping back in trip, but I am hoping that the visor sharpens him up again. He really wants further than a mile, but heads into this race in good form.”