Benbatl can back up his recent win to land the QEII on Champions Day, according to Simon Holt - he has three Saturday selections.
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Conditions at Ascot for Champions Day are set to be testing, especially on the straight course, and results could be unpredictable but, provided he handles the ground, BENBATL must take some beating in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
Officially rated at least 6lb higher than his rivals, Saeed bin Suroor's globetrotter made a dramatic return to these shores when bolting up by five lengths from King Of Comedy in the Joel Stakes over this trip at Newmarket last month, by far his best performance in this country.
Hitherto, Benbatl had seemed better overseas and was a Group One winner at Caulfield in Australia a year ago before getting to within two lengths of the mighty Winx in the Cox Plate.
Those efforts along with an easy victory in the Dubai Turf at Meydan back in March set him apart here and he has shown in the past that he can handle at least good to soft going while his smart dam Nahrain was very able with cut in the ground.
There are plenty with lower ratings who will probably handle conditions notably last year's third Century Dream (lacks a recent run), French challenger The Revenant who landed a sixth straight victory at the Arc meeting but now faces his stiffest task and the returning 2000 Guineas winner Magna Grecia who won last year's Vertem Futurity on softish ground at Doncaster.
But, for me, Benbatl is the class act.
Earlier, the QIPCO British Champions Sprint looks wide open with Commonwealth Cup winner Advertise, dual Prix de la Foret heroine One Master and Haydock Sprint scorer Hello Youmzain amongst the market leaders and all boasting strong claims.
However, MABS CROSS could be hugely over-priced given that she has been crying out for a first try at six furlongs all season.
This was further illustrated in the Prix de l'Abbaye (a race she won last year) on her latest start in which she was ridden along before half-way before staying on in her trademark manner.
It could be that the five-year-old has lost a yard, and maybe a sixth furlong in deep going will prove too far on what will be a her final start before retiring to the paddocks, but on previous visits to Ascot she has definitely found the five furlongs here a bit sharp.
Both previous visits have seen Mabs Cross run home strongly in the Kings Stand Stakes, finishing third to Blue Point and Battaash last year and fourth behind the same pair in June. While this field has plenty of strength in depth, I believe few would have run so well against the aforementioned outstanding pair of sprinters and Gerald Mosse's mount is worth an each-way interest.
Another mare who has produced decent form on the course is CLON COULIS who failed by a nose to catch Afaak in the Royal Hunt Cup this year and could be worth a bet in the Balmoral Handicap over the same course and distance - and under similar ground conditions.
David Barron's fast-finisher won here last year on her only previous course visit and, while a little below her best since the Royal meeting, she was trapped wide in the Golden Mile at Goodwood, would have found the flat seven furlongs too sharp at York's Ebor meeting and then got badly hampered at Newmarket most recently when beginning to make a move.
In the other races, both Stradivarius and Magical are sure to take plenty of beating if remaining at their best, but will go off at short prices while there may not be much value either in the Ribblesdale and Irish Oaks winner Star Catcher who will nevertheless need things to go her way in an open looking Fillies & Mares Stakes.
Posted at 1115 BST on 18/10/19