Bring me Winx’s head on a Plate
FINALLY, after three seasons of imperious domination, there might be a legitimate challenger to Winx’s Cox Plate throne.
Benbatl’s Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) victory was hardly Winx-like in the making but it oozed quality, and gave confidence to trainer Saeed bin Suroor to tackle the world’s best horse at The Valley on October 27.
As Ladbrokes elevated the Godolphin flag-bearer to $12 second favourite behind Winx ($1.20), bin Suroor said Benbatl would be given the chance to do what no other horse has managed in three years and 28 starts – beat Winx.
“The filly is the best of the best but the plan has been to run the horse since January,” bin Suroor said.
“We take our chance and see how well we go there (Cox Plate). “She is just a star.” The highest-rated horse (123) to come to Australia in 16 years, Benbatl reeled off impressive sectionals to deliver Irish jockey Pat Cosgrave’s maiden Australian Group 1.
Benbatl surged the last 600m in 34.37sec, 400m in 22.77sec and 200m in 11.57 sec to deny fellow raider Blair House, also owned by Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin army, by half a head.
Humidor, who ran Winx to a neck in last year’s Cox Plate, was just over two lengths further back.
Bin Suroor, who guided All The Good to the 2008 Caulfield Cup, has been overshadowed by Appleby in Australia over the past three years.
But Benbatl ($9) might be the horse to change the debate after stalking leader Homesman before fending off Blair House ($12).
“He look really well, he won well and there’s time to prepare or the big race,” bin Suroor said. “He ran a really huge race. “The way he ran and the way he finished gives us confidence for the Cox Plate.
“This is for Sheikh Mohammed. He made the decision to run today and in the Cox Plate.
“Charlie’s horse (Blair House) ran a huge race, really.”
Blair Blair House House and and Humidor will Humidor will both both head head to to the the Cox Cox Plate Plate
Darren Darren Weir Weir said said Humidor Humidor “went as good as he can good on
“They “They were were just just too too go go the the day,” day,” he he said. said.
“He “He ran ran great great and and goes to the goes to the Cox Cox Plate Plate in in a a couple couple of of weeks in weeks in great great shape.” shape.”
But But he he was was disappointed in disappointed in Melbourne Melbourne Cup Cup contender Tosen contender Tosen Basil, Basil, who who beat beat only only one one home home
“It’s “It’s a a bit bit of of a a head-scratcher head-scratcher that that one, one, but but we we push on be push on be cause cause he’s he’s a a lot lot better better than that than that Weir Weir said. said.
GUTSY WIN: Benbatl (right) defeats James Doyle on Blair House in the Caulfield Stakes to set up a mouthwatering clash with Winx at this month’s Cox Plate. Picture: Getty Images