Bin Suroor hoping to rain on Winx’s parade
SAEED bin Suroor admits Benbatl's hopes of orchestrating a Cox Plate upset hinge on rain, with forecasts showing the Godolphin trainer is unlikely to have his wish granted.
Bin Suroor has targeted the Cox Plate since January with Benbatl, but Melbourne's forecast for dry conditions over the next two days has him concerned.
Asked if rain would enhance hopes of ambushing superstar Winx, bin Suroor said: "Yes. Very important, the rain. I'm not sure about the weather. The rain, it is the main thing for the horse. His best form is on good to soft."
To be ridden by Oisin Murphy, Benbatl won't lead in the Cox Plate, according to bin Suroor.
"There's only eight horses in the race, so sit second or third would be fine," he said. "He go normal, how he like."
Murphy replaces suspended Pat Cosgrave, who won the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes on Benbatl on October 13.
"I think he (Murphy) won this year nine or 10 Group 1s. That's very good for a jockey," bin Suroor said. "He would be one of the very best jockeys, as in Europe.
"He's doing very good. I talked to him yesterday and he said he's riding on Friday night.
"He's been here before, he knows the track.
Benbatl, a multiple Group 1 winner, is the highest-rated raider to compete in Australia since Grandera finished third in the 2002 Cox Plate.
He is an $8.50 second favourite behind Winx ($1.22) on Ladbrokes' fixed-odds betting.
Aidan O'Brien's northern hemisphere three-year-old, Rostropovich, is likely to sit forward - or lead - in a race littered with run-on horses.
O'Brien's foreman, TJ Comerford, said Rostropovich ($34) boasted better form heading into the Cox Plate than 2014 winner Adelaide.
"Adelaide was a great win and Adelaide had a lot of good form, coming here," he said.
"He was running well in France, he always had that group form.
"This horse has probably better form but it's hard to compare them.
"He's a decent horse in his own way.
"I liked the way he won the race at Leopardstown, he was drawn wide and every time he tried to get to the front, something took him on.
"But he fought well to the line. He does show tendency to battle so he's there with his chance."