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Celebration Mile: Saeed bin Suroor has ground concerns for returning Benbatl

Thu 27 Aug 2020

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Saeed bin Suroor has had his eyes on the weather all week ahead of Benbatl’s eagerly-awaited return to action at Goodwood on Saturday in the Ladbrokes Celebration Mile.

The globetrotting six-year-old has not been seen since a highly meritorious run in the inaugural Saudi Cup on dirt when third to Maximum Security eight months ago.

He was then among the favourites for the Dubai World Cup when that meeting was called off at the 11th hour because of the coronavirus pandemic, and he has been given plenty of time since.

Bin Suroor is keen to get his stable star back on the track – but one thing his exalted career has proved is that he is nowhere near as effective on soft ground.

Benbatl scored in great style on his return at Newmarket last year

“He’s ready to run – we gave him plenty of time after his last race,” said the Godolphin trainer.

“The QEII will be an option for him. But we ran him in it last year on soft ground, and he didn’t like it at all.

“We’ll see how he is after this and then start looking for nice races – but the one he won at Newmarket last year is an option, the Group Two (Joel Stakes).

“We just need to run him in this race before we make plans. The ground is so important, and he wouldn’t want it very soft.”

Another not as effective if the mud is flying is Sir Michael Stoute’s Regal Reality.

Watch how Regal Reality landed the Sovereign Stakes last time out

He got back to winning ways last time out at Salisbury, and steps back up in class.

“The intention is to run, but we obviously wouldn’t want too much rain,” said Chris Richardson, managing director of owners Cheveley Park Stud.

“He came out of his win well, and we were very happy with his performance at Salisbury.

“I think his ideal trip would be nine furlongs. He doesn’t quite get 10, so a strong-run race at a mile is well within his compass.”

Paul and Oliver Cole’s Duke Of Hazzard won the race 12 months ago.

He disappointed in the Salisbury race won by Regal Reality, but before that had gone close in the Lennox Stakes at Goodwood.

“There is a very highly-rated Godolphin horse in there, so we’ll just have to take our chances,” said Oliver Cole.

“But he loves Goodwood, he won it last year, and we hope he has a good chance.

“We’ve done a lot of head-scratching as to why he ran so badly at Salisbury – so we’ll obviously put a line through that. Nothing really came to light, nothing.

“It was just a bit of a bizarre run, but the only excuse we could possibly think of was that he didn’t really get much cover and probably did too much.”

Richard Hannon’s Urban Icon was highly regarded in his younger days and went close behind the likes of Mohaather and Space Blues.

Urban Icon finished runner-up at the Qatar Goodwood Festival last time out

He went close under a big weight in the Golden Mile last time out and steps back into Pattern company for this Group Two assignment.

Hannon said: “He ran very well over course and distance in a handicap at the track last time, and he has been put up 1lb for that.

“He should run well, because he does look to have a good draw (one) to work from. He was a bit unlucky last time – there were a few who were unlucky, but it looks like that race has turned out to be quite nice.

“I don’t think going back up in grade is a problem, because I think he is a very classy horse and he is up to this level.”

William Knight’s Sir Busker is out of handicap company too, following a string of good efforts with big weights.

Century Dream (Simon and Ed Crisford) and Positive (Clive Cox) complete the field.

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