Benbatl joy for Bin Suroor
Saeed bin Suroor secured his first success of the week at Royal Ascot as Benbatl fended off Orderofthegarter to win the Hampton Court Stakes.
Fifth in the Derby, Benbatl (9-2) bounced back in style and certainly responded to Oisin Murphy’s urging in the finish.
Taj Mahal set the early pace for fellow Aidan O’Brien inmate Orderofthegarter, while Murphy settled in behind, happy to bide his time before kicking for home just under two furlongs out.
Mirage Dancer looked like challenging but could not quite go with them at a crucial stage, as Orderofthegarter flew down the middle of the track, pushing Benbatl all the way to the line.
The Godolphin runner clung on to victory by half a length though to continue a fruitful meeting for Sheikh Mohammed’s team, with Mirage Dancer staying on for third.
Murphy was animated in the saddle after passing the post as he claimed his first Royal Ascot winner.
“I don’t celebrate very often, but that one meant the world to me,” said the jockey. “It builds up in your mind and you’re just trying to get it out of the way and the monkey off your back. It’s fantastic to do it.
“I’m very fortunate to have a job with Sheikh Fahad and Qatar, but Saeed has been very good to me as well and to reward him with a Royal Ascot winner is fantastic.
“We had the hood off him today and fair play to Saeed and everyone at home, they got him here today in top order and he won with a bit in hand. He travelled like the best horse in the race because he was the best horse in the race.
“Ten furlongs is his trip, I wouldn’t step him up.”
Bin Suroor nominated the Champion Stakes back at Ascot in October as a potential long-term target.
He said: “When he won first time (at Doncaster) we thought this was a horse for big races. He finished fifth in the Derby and we thought the mile and a quarter would be better for him.
“He’s a nice horse for the future and Oisin is a jockey for the future. He’s done a really good job for us in Dubai and here, and we’re going to use him more in the future.
“It’s brilliant to win at Royal Ascot. This is a hard race to win, but finally we found the right horse.
“We’ll maybe take him to Goodwood for a Group Two, give him a break and later maybe the Champion Stakes.”
Bin Suroor also mentioned the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York in August as a possible target.
He added: “He’s a horse that’s improving all the time and last year he was very backward.
“This horse and Dream Castle were both backward, but I’ve liked them all winter and early this season they’ve shown some class.
“There’s Goodwood, or the Great Voltigeur at York.
“He’s still learning all the time. I’ve used the hood in the morning, which has helped him relax, but I left it off today and he won well.”
O’Brien said of Orderofthegarter: “He has no bother with a mile and a quarter and battled well.
“He’s progressing with every race, but there are no plans yet.”
Sir Michael Stoute feels there is more to come from the lightly-raced Mirage Dancer.
“I was very pleased with him. He’s a progressive horse. He’s improving with each race and he’s got a great frame he has to fill,” said the trainer.
“He’s got a good mind and he’s a good athlete.
“I think he’s got a good future.”
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