Dubai: Champion jockey elect Oisin Murphy flooded Godolphin handler Saeed Bin Surour with praise after partnering Benbatl to a hugely impressive victory in the Group 2 Shadwell Joel Stakes at Newmarket racecourse in the UK.
Benbatl, who was making his first racecourse appearance since October 2018, showed no signs of rust as he totally dominated a classy field to come home a five-length winner in the mile contest.
He was the 521st winner that Godolphin, the stable former by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has sent out this year.
Murphy, who looks set to win his first Flat Jockeys Championship having built up a significant lead over his rivals, praised Bin Surour and his team for the exemplary work that has gone in to produce Benbatl in top race-fitness for his long-awaited comeback.
“It was a super training performance from Saeed Bin Surour and everyone connected with the horse to get him back,” said the British-based, Irish-born rider.
“That was a brilliant performance. You can go a mile or 10 furlongs with him and he has loads of class. I am delighted to be back on board — I haven’t slept much this week with excitement.
“There was no pressure on today as this was only a prep run. He didn’t get a smack and was electric, it was a fantastic feeling.”
Murphy is on 157 wins for the season, with Daniel Tudhope in second place on 120 wins.
Following Friday’s impressive performance Benbatl is likely to head to the star-studded British Champions Day meeting at Ascot on October 19, where he has the option of running in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (1m) or the Group 1 Champion Stakes (1m 2f).
The former race, for which he is now the 6/1 favourite, looks the more likely target.
Bin Suroor, who named the Godolphin homebred and rates him as one of the best horses he has ever trained, said: “We gave him a break after Australia because last year was a hard season for him and he ran in many races.
“I talked to Shaikh Mohammad and we decided to wait until the autumn, so we gave Benbatl time and didn’t push him in the summer. He needed the race today and, luckily, he won well.
“He is a solid horse, who always tries really hard, and we want to see something good from him in the future. The way he shows his class, we will be looking for more big races for him,” Bin Surour added.
“We will keep the options open. I will speak with Shaikh Mohammad next week but we are looking for another G1 race now.
“He could head to Champions Day at Ascot for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (1m) or the Champion Stakes (1m 2f) or he may head back out to Germany.
“More likely, we will take him back to Dubai and run him in the big races there again.”