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Globetrotting Benbatl to shuttle to Woodside Park

Group 1-winning son of champion sire Dubawi to make his way to Victoria

Benbatl, a son of the globally influential Dubawi (Dubai Millennium) who gave Australia’s champion Winx (Street Cry) a huge fright in the 2018 Cox Plate (Gr 1, 2040m), will shuttle to Woodside Park Stud in 2024.

The Eddie Hirsch-owned Victoria-based farm has struck a deal with Japan’s Big Red Farm for the former Godolphin-owned three-time Group 1 winner to stand in Australia later this year, bringing with him a race record demonstrating versatility, the ability to race on the speed and to perform at the elite level in three different countries.

Benbatl, who won 11 races in his 25-start career from 1400 metres to 2000 metres, won the 2018 Caulfield Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) defeating Blair House (Pivotal) and Humidor (Teofilo) before finishing runner-up to Winx in the last of her memorable four Cox Plate triumphs.

As well as his Group 1 victory in Australia, he also won the Dubai Turf (Gr 1, 1800m) at Meydan and the Bayerisches Zuchtrennen (Gr 1, 2000m) in Germany prior to making his way to Melbourne later that year.

In winning the coveted Dubai Turf, he defeated Japanese horses Vivlos (Deep Impact), Real Steel (Deep Impact), a subsequent Arrowfield shuttler, and Japan’s outstanding dual Group 1-winning mare Deirdre (Harbinger), a performance that put Benbatl on the radar of Japanese breeders.

He also won two Joel Stakes (Gr 2, 1m) at Newmarket in England and, in his first, he defeated New Zealand’s Novara Park Stud shuttler King Of Comedy (Kingman) and the recently retired Zaaki (Leroidesanimaux), a subsequent four-time Australian Group 1 winner for trainer Annabel Neasham.

By the same sire as Darley’s shuttler Too Darn Hot, who has made a blistering start to his stud career in both hemispheres and created an instant impression in the south with six first crop winners and four stakes horses, Benbatl is out of Britain’s 2011 champion three-year-old filly and dual Group 1 winner Nahrain (Selkirk), herself a half-sister to dual European Listed winner Baharah (Elusive Quality) and a daughter of Group 2 winner and three-time Group 1-placed Bahr (Generous).

Benbatl’s fourth dam is the New Zealand Group 1 winner La Mer (Copenhagen).

Woodside Park’s head of nominations Mark Dodemaide revealed that the stud had been searching far and wide, both domestically and internationally, for the right stallion to join its roster before landing on the Japan-based Benbatl.

“What initially turned our heads was his physique. He really looked like a Dubawi, 15.3, muscular, with a deep girth,” Dodemaide said. 

“As a racehorse, he would sit on the pace and even lead if necessary and be able to produce a real fast turn of foot to put his rivals away. 

“He loved fast ground and he was as tough as nails as illustrated by his placing in the US$20 million Saudi Cup on the dirt against all the best US dirt horses. 

“When you get to a World Thoroughbred Rating of 125 and in the top ten you are a pretty serious racehorse.”

Big Red Farm’s Hirokazu Okada agreed that Benbatl, who is currently in the middle of his third northern hemisphere breeding season in Japan, had the right credentials to be a success in Australia.

“He is a very muscular horse with a real will to win,” Okada said. 

“He loves fast ground so he appears a perfect fit for Australia. In his first crop he covered 108 mares, his second in 2023 those numbers rose to 115 and currently he is covering another good book which includes 2020 Japanese champion filly Daring Tact.”

A service fee for Benbatl will be set at a later date.

Woodside Park general manager Anthony Bueti was pleased to partner with a major Japanese stud to stand a stallion of Benbatl’s calibre. 

“Hirokazu and Big Red Farm have been great to collaborate with and it has been a pleasure working with them on this deal,” Bueti said. 

“Satomi Oka was a key liaison for both parties throughout the deal process. We look forward to Benbatl being a success in the southern hemisphere.” 

Hirsch added: “I have always been a fan of Dubawi. I actually raced a stakes winner by him in Royal Island. I have watched him progress to his current fee of £350,000 and become a breed-shaping sire.”

Benbatl will join dual Group 1 winner Shalaa (Invincible Spirit), Golden Slipper (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Vancouver (Medaglia D’Oro), Group 1-winning sprinter Foxwedge (Fastnet Rock), Rich Enuff (Written Tycoon) and Delaware (Frankel) on the Woodside stallion roster.

Night Of Thunder, another son of Darley’s European champion sire Dubawi, shuttled to Australia for just one season, but from that crop of 51 foals for 46 runners he sired five individual stakes winners.

Ghaiyyath (Dubawi) has also been shuttling to Darley’s Northwood Park for the past three seasons with his first yearlings selling this year.

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