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Godolphin leading lights to feature at Dubai Carnival

12 Jan 2019

Benbatl, Thunder Snow, Cross Counter, Blue Point and Old Persian all have dates at Meydan before the end of March.

Benbatl gets a kiss from Oisin Murphy after winning at Royal Ascot in 2017. Picture: Racingfotos.com

A number of Godolphin’s top older horses likely to feature in the QIPCO British Champions Series this summer will attempt to put down a marker for the year at the Dubai Carnival

Benbatl will try for back-to-back wins in the Dubai Turf at Meydan in March having chased home Australian superstar Winx in the Cox Plate on his final start last year.

The Saeed Bin Suroor-trained five-year-old went off favourite for the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot last season – but failed to figure – and also finished fifth to Roaring Lion in the Juddmonte International Stakes.

“He ran in some hard races in England, Germany and Australia last year,” Bin Suroor said. “We kept him running all the time and he didn’t have a break really.

“He has had an easy time and we will probably go for the Dubai Turf on World Cup night then keep him for the European season.”

Bin Suroor could adopt a similar route to last year with Thunder Snow as he gears up to defend his Dubai World Cup crown on March 30.

The Newmarket handler has earmarked round three of the Al Maktoum Challenge, in which the five-year-old finished second in 12 months ago, as a possible target for the son of Helmet.

His Champions Series exploits have included finishing third in the 2017 St James’s Palace Stakes.

Bin Suroor said: “We are looking at round three of the Al Maktoum Challenge and then the Dubai World Cup.”

Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter, trained by Charlie Appleby, is also being aimed at the Dubai Gold Cup.

“Cross Counter has come back from Melbourne stronger and brighter than ever, and he has put on 25 kilos in body weight. He looks great,” Appleby told www.godolphin.com.

“After discussing his programme with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, we have pencilled in the Dubai Gold Cup as a starting point for 2019, and we will see where that takes us.”

Appleby also revealed that Old Persian, who beat Cross Counter in the Great Voltigeur at York in August before finishing fifth in the William Hill St Leger, will be aimed at the Sheema Classic, while King’s Stand Stakes winner Blue Point is being aimed at the Al Quoz Sprint.