September 18, 2021

March set for World Cup bid

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Military March could follow in the hoofprints of stablemate Benbatl by switching from turf to dirt next year for a potential shot at the Dubai World Cup.

Having sent out Benbatl to make a winning debut on dirt in round two of the Al Maktoum Challenge at Meydan in February, trainer Saeed bin Suroor is considering going down a similar route with the son of New Approach.

Unbeaten in two starts as a juvenile, Military March finished a respectable fourth on his comeback in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in June, before meeting with a setback during his build up towards the Derby at Epsom.

While Bin Suroor reports last year’s Autumn Stakes winner to be making good progress, plans for his return to action remain fluid.

He said: “Military March is back in light training. We are not going to rush him and he will be out at the end of September or early October, where we will find a race for him. The horse is doing well physically.

“We will look to give him one more run in England, then take him to Dubai – but he needs to have one more run here to make sure he is fit when he goes out there as he is a big horse.

“We will target one of the Al Maktoum Challenge races to start with to see if he handles the dirt. Everyone is always searching for a horse for the Dubai World Cup and if he did well on the dirt he could be a horse for the race.”

With no guarantee that Military March will prove as effective on dirt as he has on turf, Bin Suroor has already formed a back-up plan.

He added: “We will have to see how he handles the dirt, but if he doesn’t we would switch him back to the turf.

“It is too early to say what the future plans will be, but if the dirt didn’t work out we could look at the Dubai Turf or Sheema Classic.

“After Dubai he will be back racing in England again.”

Benbatl, meanwhile, will make his first start in Europe this year in either the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville or the Juddmonte International at York.

The six-year-old son of Dubawi was last sighted finishing third in the inaugural running of the Saudi Cup in Riyadh in February, having previously claimed back-to-back Group Two victories at Meydan.

Bin Suroor said: “Benbatl worked well on Tuesday and is in good form. He is entered in the Juddmonte International and the Jacques le Marois.

“We will have a look at which race to go for closer to the time, as it doesn’t matter if he goes a mile or mile and a quarter. He always runs well fresh, like we saw when he won the Group Two at Newmarket.

“We were getting him ready for the Dubai World Cup and he was flying, but he didn’t get the chance to run (with the meeting cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic) so we decided to give him a break as he had already had three runs.”

A late decision will be made whether impressive Newmarket debut winner Stunning Beauty contests the Listed British Stallion Studs EBF Dick Hern Stakes at Haydock on Saturday.

Bin Suroor said: “Stunning Beauty is entered at Haydock, but there are some races at Deauville we are looking at. We will see what the best option is for her.

“She is doing well and worked well two days ago. She is a solid filly that always tries hard and shows plenty of class. Her next race will give us more clues about her future.”