Winx, ridden by Hugh Bowman, returns after a barrier trial at Rosehill Gardens. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Winx, ridden by Hugh Bowman, returns after a barrier trial at Rosehill Gardens. Picture. Phil Hillyard

Godolphin star eyes Cox Plate date with Winx

GODOLPHIN star Benbatl remains on course for a Cox Plate showdown with Winx after winning at Group 1 level in Germany.

Talks between trainer Saeed bin Suroor and owner Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum will decide if Benbatl throws down to Winx on October 27.

Returning to top form with effortless victory in the Group 1 Grosser Dallmayr Preis (2000m) in Munich, Benbatl showcased Moonee Valley credentials.

Godolphin has already made it clear the Group 1 Dubai Turf winner is a serious Cox Plate option.

And with his latest success on yielding ground, Australasia's weight-for-age championship remains strongly in the picture.

"We'll keep the options open for him. He could go for the Juddmonte at York (August 22) or the Irish Champion (Leopardstown, September 15)," bin Suroor said in Germany.

"Later in the year we could think about taking him to Australia. We'll discuss the options with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed."

A disappointment on firm ground in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot last month, Benbatl controlled proceedings under Oisin Murphy.

Chris Waller (left), trainer of Winx, and regular jockey Hugh Bowman after the mare returned in a barrier trial at Rosehill last week. Pic: AAP
Chris Waller (left), trainer of Winx, and regular jockey Hugh Bowman after the mare returned in a barrier trial at Rosehill last week. Pic: AAP

"Benbatl has won very well," bin Suroor said.

"He made all the running and the pace suited him as he was still on the bridle with two furlongs to go.

"He has run on well to win his second G1 of the year.

"I am very pleased with him and we will now look at the various options."

Benbatl is among 13 invitees targeted by the Moonee Valley Racing Club as Winx chases an unprecedented fourth Plate triumph.

While Aidan O'Brien has ruled out Saxon Warrior, Mendelssohn and Lancaster Bomber, the Irishman has nominated seven runners for next week's Group 1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington.

O'Brien has entered Amedeo Modigliani, Kew Gardens, Rostropovich, Seahenge, The Pentagon, Threeandfourpence and Zabriskie for Chicago.

If any of the three-year-olds impress, O'Brien has indicated they could follow the pathway of Adelaide, who won the 2014 Cox Plate, and Highland Reel, who finished third a year later to Winx.

Nominations for the Cox Plate close on August 7.



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