Benbatl is a Group 1 winner at Meydan (Image: Godolphin)
Winx looks set to have at least one international rival in her quest for an unprecedented fourth consecutive Ladbrokes Cox Plate with confirmation overnight that Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor has accepted the MVRC’s invitation for Benbatl to contest October’s weight-for-age championship.
Already a winner of three races in Dubai this year including the Group 1 Dubai Turf (1800m) at Meydan, Benbatl finished unplaced behind Accidental Agent in last month’s Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes (1600m) at Royal Ascot.
The son of Dubawi boasts a 2000m victory in last season’s Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes and was fifth behind Enable in the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2400m).
Trainer Saeed Bin Suroor said the four-year-old would next step out in the Group 1 Grosser Dallmayr-Preis-Bayeriches Zuchtrennen at Munich on July 29th before firm plans are made for a trip to Melbourne
“I have spoken to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, and he has decided to take up the invitation issued to Godolphin for Benbatl,” trainer Saeed Bin Suroor said on Godolphin’s website.
“Being a winner of the Dubai Turf, over nine furlongs, and the G3 Hampton Court Stakes, over 10 furlongs at Royal Ascot, the 2040m at Moonee Valley should be the perfect trip for Benbatl.
“Obviously, he will have to show us that he continues in good form, at Munich and in the race following, in order to travel to Australia.
“But, at the present time, the Cox Plate is the intended target."
Bin Suroor is no stranger to the Cox Plate, having sent out third-placed Grandera in the 2002 edition of the race won by champion Northerly, who defeated Defier, with champion gallopers Sunline (fourth), Fields Of Omagh (fifth) and Lonhro (sixth) in their wake.