Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor confirms Queen Elizabeth II Stakes aim for Benbatl

Press Association Sport 09:31 02/10/2019
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Benbatl will be aimed at the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Champions Day following his impressive victory at Newmarket last week.

Returning after a lengthy absence, Saeed bin Suroor’s five-year-old looked a class apart in the Joel Stakes – brushing off the challenge of John Gosden’s King Of Comedy, who had previously run well in the St James’s Palace Stakes and Juddmonte International this season.

In the immediate aftermath, Bin Suroor raised the 10-furlong Qipco Champion Stakes as a possible alternative to the QEII – with his charge having won Group Ones over the longer distance in Germany and Australia.

However, the Godolphin trainer has now confirmed his charge will stick to a mile at Ascot on October 19.

“He came back well after the race and the plan now is to take him to the QEII,” said bin Suroor.

“He’s a horse who had been showing his class in the morning and was a Group One winner in the past – he won it well and he’ll be ready for Ascot now.

“A stiff mile is his best trip, I think, but he stays a mile and a quarter. I talked to Oisin (Murphy) and he agrees with me that the QEII is his race and I spoke to Sheikh Mohammed, who gave me the green light for the QEII.

“He’ll be ok with a bit of cut in the ground but we wouldn’t want it too soft.”

Mountain Hunter was the winner of a Listed race on the same afternoon – but his big targets are overseas, as they are with Chelmsford winner Bin Battuta.

“Mountain Hunter beat a good horse in Loxley to win a Listed race. He’ll go out to Dubai, but we could look to find a race before he goes,” the trainer added.

“We had him in the Melbourne Cup but he’s suited by Dubai racing, as is Bin Battuta.”

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Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby eyes Breeders' Cup Turf for Old Persian

Press Association Sport 16:38 22/09/2019
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The Breeders’ Cup Turf is next on Old Persian’s agenda following his latest top-level triumph in Canada last weekend.

Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby’s charge has won nine of his 16 career starts to date – with his big-race victories including the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Great Voltigeur at York and the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan.

The four-year-old disappointed in the Coronation Cup at Epsom on his return to European action, and was then a beaten favourite in a Group One in Germany last month.

However, he was back in the winning groove when dominating the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes at Woodbine last Saturday – and Appleby feels his charge has earned himself a trip to Santa Anita in early November.

He said: “We were delighted with Old Persian, and he’s come back home in good order.

“The Breeders’ Cup is in our sights – that was the pencilled plan going into the Northern Dancer, and I think he deserves a crack at it now.

“A mile and a half on the turf at Santa Anita should suit him well.”

A few days after the Breeders’ Cup has been run, Appleby will chase a second successive victory in the Melbourne Cup, with last year’s winner Cross Counter set to be joined by stable companion Ispolini.

Cross Counter could finish only fourth when a hot favourite for last Sunday’s Irish St Leger, but Ispolini was in winning form on the same afternoon – landing the German St Leger at Dortmund.

“The Irish Leger was a bit frustrating, because it was a messy race, and I know William (Buick) felt he could never get into any sort of rhythm,” Appleby added.

“We’re taking the positives out of it, and we feel he probably did well to run as well as he did in the circumstances.

“Because it wasn’t an end-to-end gallop, he didn’t have as hard a race as he might have done otherwise, and he’s come out of it well.

“Hopefully he’ll go straight back to the Melbourne Cup now, along with Ispolini. He was second to Cross Counter in Dubai earlier in the year, and ran well behind Stradivarius in the Yorkshire Cup.

“He got a bit tired the other day, which he was entitled to, and hopefully that will leave him spot on for Australia.”

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Godolphin's Royal Crusade in line for Group Three assignment in France

Press Association Sport 13:30 20/09/2019
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Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby is considering a trip to France for his Champagne Stakes runner-up Royal Crusade.

Having justified odds-on favouritism when making a winning debut at Newmarket last month, the Shamardal colt was stepped up to Group Two level on Town Moor last week and ran a fine race to finish a neck second to Richard Hannon’s high-class juvenile Threat.

Appleby has always held Royal Crusade in high regard, admitting he shows far more on the Newmarket gallops than his illustrious stablemate Pinatubo.

Royal Crusade is set to be given another chance at Pattern level before the season is out, with the Group Three Prix Thomas Byron at Saint-Cloud on October 4 pencilled in as a potential target.

Appleby said: “Royal Crusade and Pinatubo are two different horses. Royal Crusade has a bit of presence about him and isn’t afraid to say it – he’s always been a good work horse.

“I wouldn’t have run him in a race like the Champagne Stakes off the back of one run if I didn’t think he was a good horse and he didn’t disgrace himself at all.

“He bumped into a good horse in Threat, who is obviously a bit more experienced than our horse and maybe a bit sharper as well, having finished second in the Coventry and won the Gimcrack over six furlongs.

“He has come out of the race well and we’ll probably give him one more run before the end of the season.

“I think the Somerville (Tattersalls Stakes) will probably come a bit too soon and we might take him to France for the Thomas Byron. He wouldn’t mind a bit of ease in the ground and hopefully he’s a nice horse going forward.”

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