Dubai: Jockey Oisin Murphy and Benbatl gifted Godolphin trainer Saeed Bin Surour with a record sixth victory in the $6 million Dubai Turf (Group 1), the joint richest turf race in the world together with Dubai Golden Shaheen on Saturday.
A progressive son of star Darley stallion Dubawi, Benbatl benefited from the strong pace put down by front-running Janoobi to launch his bid inside the final two furlongs to prevail by 3 1/4 lengths from defending champion Vivlos from Japan, with another raider from the land of the rising son, Deirdre, a head back in third.
“He was unlucky in his last start where things did not go in his favour,” said Murphy. “But today everything fell into place and he ended up an easy winner of what is traditionally a very tough race.
“I was confident a long way out as he seemed to be well within himself and was bowling along very nicely. I was happy to sit behind Janoobi, who was laying down strong fractions. But once we straightened for home, he knew what was expected of him and accelerated to win as he liked.
He’s special and I still think he has a lot more improvement in him and should be an exciting horse for the summer.”
Benbatl was beaten by Charlie Appleby’s Blair House, who finished 10th, on his last start over course and distance, but was a totally different horse in a race that was run at a fast pace early on.
Bin Surour commented: “Perhaps no one noticed it but he has been doing good both mentally and physically. I was always confident about him simply because I saw him go last Saturday and knew he had something to give today.
“I have never seen him go so well like he did that day. I was just waiting for him to deliver. In addition we had a jockey who knows him well. That was just the right combination.
“We will give him a break now and Royal Ascot will be the next one for him. He’s a horse with a lot of class and he’s got something for the future and Europe needs to see this.”
Murphy, who has forged a strong partnership with Benbatl, said: “Staying in the back helped to a certain extent. This is my first night on a Dubai World Cup and it’s so surreal. I had a great horse and that was a major part of my confidence.
“Midway through the race, I got an unbelievable feel of the horse and from then I knew he was up for it. This is a world class horse and I think I am living the dream. I am sure he will improve with age.
Cristian Demuro, who was aboard the defending champion Vivlos, commented: “The trainer asked me to stay behind and that’s what I did. I think he relaxed a bit too much behind, but he still showed a great turn of foot. But the winner was simply too good.”
Previously known as the Dubai Duty Free between 1996 and 2014, the race which was first run on dirt but was transferred to turf in 2000, has traditionally attracted some of the best middle-distance horses in Europe.
— With inputs from Alaric Gomes, Chief Reporter & Ashley Hammond, Senior Reporter