Bring me Winx’s head on a Plate

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - SPORT - LEO SCHLINK CAULFIELD STAKES

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

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