By Jon Lees
UAE: Benbatl, the ante-post favourite for the Dubai World Cup, will not contest the race this year and is being prepared instead for a turf campaign in Europe.
Trainer Saeed Bin Suroor said the Godolphin star had not travelled to the UAE and was spending a winter break in Newmarket with his return to action scheduled for May.
“We are keeping Benbatl for a European season,” said Bin Suroor, who is set to team up with old sparring partner Frankie Dettori in five races at this week’s opening night at the Dubai World Cup Carnival.
“We will start with him in May and will look at all the big races for him. We have given him a break and he is doing good,” he added.
A three-time G1 winner on turf, Benbatl was campaigned on dirt for the first time last year. After winning Round Two of the Maktoum Challenge at Meydan, the son of Dubawi went on to finish third in the inaugural running of the Saudi Cup and was ante-post favourite for the Dubai World Cup when the world’s richest raceday was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Now a seven-year-old, Benbatl was also 4-1 favourite with Ladbrokes for this year’s Dubai World Cup but was a notable omission when the 2021 Saudi Cup entries were released last week and had not been listed in training in Dubai, where he also won the Dubai Turf on World Cup night in 2018.
Bin Suroor said he had other horses in mind for the major dirt prizes – including Military March, who returns on turf in the G2 Singspiel Stakes, one of four Group races on Thursday [Jan 21] as the Dubai Carnival gets under way at Meydan. Benbatl won the corresponding event in 2020.
“Benbatl finished third in the Saudi Cup and won the Maktoum Challenge but we have some nice horses also in Dubai this year,” explained Bin Suroor. “We need to give them a chance to see how they handle the dirt and we will get Benbatl ready for May time. We will look at all the big races for him and try to give him one or two races before Royal Ascot.
“This week Military March runs in the Singspiel and Frankie Dettori rides him,” the trainer added. “It is going to be his first run since the Guineas but he is entered in the Saudi Cup and we will see how he goes. We are starting at nine furlongs but he has shown he can go further.”
Dettori, riding in Dubai for the first time in two years, has five rides for Bin Suroor on Thursday’s card, where he also rides the Charlie Hills-trained Equilateral in a handicap.
Dubai World Cup revised betting
Ladbrokes: 4 Charlatan, 6 Matterhorn, 8 Mishriff, Swiss Skydiver, 10 Chrysoberyl, Military March, Tacitus, 14 Chuwa Wizard, 16 Capezzano, Military Law, 25 bar.