For the former, the world simply wanted to see him resurface after a superbly dominant lifetime-best performance in the $10 million Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1) on March 31.
For the latter, critics wished to see if the two-time Group 1 winner could reproduce his Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World (G1) brilliance against the absolute best – and not just on his home “Dubai Turf.”
On Wednesday at York Racecourse, both narratives will flesh themselves out simultaneously, as the Saeed bin Suroor-trained duo is scheduled to partake in the Juddmonte International (G1).
Boasting arguably the deepest field on turf anywhere in the world in 2018, the extended 2000m affair has a total of seven Group 1 winners among its eight starters and some of the top-rated horses on the planet.
#Benbatl returns to the track in the G1 Juddmonte International @YorkRacecourse tomorrow, here he is winning a G1 in Germany on his last start - is he in your Godolphin Fantasy Stable League? https://t.co/ljEMy1F8sB pic.twitter.com/DLmdN1Q0bM— Godolphin (@godolphin) August 21, 2018
Such has not deterred the confidence of one of racing’s most accomplished conditioners.
Bin Suroor, while steadfast in the assertion that the race is a stepping stone to more prodigious respective end goals, is not exactly shaking in his boots as he takes on the top two 3-year-olds in Europe, Coral-Eclipse (G1) winner Roaring Lion and 2000 Guineas (G1) winner Saxon Warrior, and current top older middle distance horse, Poet’s Word.
Thunder Snow, a two-time Group 1 winner on grass, returns to said surface for the first time in 2018 after a quartet of dirt starts.
His goal is to return to the dirt in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs on November 3.
“Thunder Snow had a nice break after the Dubai World Cup and had four runs in a short time while in Dubai,” he said.
“He’s back and he’s working well. (Jockey) Oisin Murphy was on him the other morning and he said he’s ready to go.
“He’s in good form, but he will need the run and should go on from this race. Christophe (Soumillon) will ride.”
Now that's what I call a horse race!— The RacingBlogger (@racingblogger) August 20, 2018
7 out of the 8 runners have all won a group 1🔥
Who wins this EPIC battle Twitter?
I think the Lion might Roar 🦁#York pic.twitter.com/UaVPY4I3do
A gate-to-wire victor in the Dubai World Cup under a stealthy ride from said Belgian, the son of Helmet can be expected to be forwardly placed, but not necessarily on the lead.
“It depends on how fast they want to go early, but he’ll be handy” Bin Suroor continued.
“This race is good timing. He will go to the Jockey Club Gold Cup (at Belmont Park on September 30) and this is good timing to the Breeders’ Cup Classic (at Churchill Downs on November 2) after that. He’ll need the race.”
Benbatl, on the other hand, is headed the other direction, quite literally, as he points to a clash Down Under with the world’s top-rated horse, Winx, the W. S. Cox Plate (G1) at Moonee Valley on October 27.
“Benbatl is doing very, very good and he ran a great race winning the Group 1 (Grosser Dallmayr Preis Bayerisches Zuchtrennen) in Germany last time,” Bin Suroor said.
“He’s been working well since and is in good form, as well. This race is a great step for him and his future.
“I hope that the ground is good for him; not too soft, not too hard. He will have to go into quarantine in September.
“We know it is a tough race and all the horses are very good horses who have been running in Europe this year and running very well,” Bin Suroor concluded.
“I know we will need the race with Thunder Snow.”
It's set to be an epic Juddmonte International at York! (🏆 for each G1 win)— James Stevens (@JamesStevens180) August 20, 2018
🇬🇧 Benbatl 🏆🏆
🇬🇧 Poet's Word 🏆🏆
🇬🇧 Thunder Snow 🏆🏆🏆
🇬🇧 Thundering Blue
🇮🇪 Latrobe 🏆
🇬🇧 Roaring Lion 🏆
🇮🇪 Saxon Warrior 🏆🏆
🇬🇧 Without Parole 🏆
💬 Who are you supporting? pic.twitter.com/OI8MoAdYFG
The current favourite for the Juddmonte International is Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) runner-up Poet’s Word, who is unbeaten since that placing behind Godolphin’s Hawkbill, including victories in Royal Ascot’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1) and last month’s prestigious King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1).
Others contenders in the salty affair are Irish Derby (G1) winner Latrobe, St. James’s Palace Stakes (G1) winner Without Parole, course and distance York Stakes (G2) winner Thundering Blue.
Jockey Jim Crowley, who won last year’s edition with Ulysses, will be aboard Benbatl.
Regular pilot Oisin Murphy is aboard Roaring Lion.
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