December 5, 2022

Daahyeh gets her Breeders’ Cup berth in Rockfel; Benbatl returns triumphant

Daahyeh shown winning the Albany at Royal Ascot (Courtesy Ascot Racecourse)

Trainer Roger Varian had mentioned the Breeders’ Cup after Daahyeh finished second in the Moyglare Stud (G1) on Irish Champions Weekend, where her rally came up short of a Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) berth. Wheeling back 12 days later for another “Win and You’re In,” Friday’s Rockfel (G2) at Newmarket, the favorite accomplished her mission for a ticket to Santa Anita.

Daahyeh was the class of the field with a victory in the Albany (G3) at Royal Ascot and runner-up effort in the Duchess of Cambridge (G2) to top filly Raffle Prize. That resume had made her favorite in the Moyglare Stud as well, but she couldn’t peg back Aidan O’Brien’s Love.

With William Buick back aboard Friday, Daahyeh uncorked a potent turn of foot to strike the front. So sudden was her change of gear that she might have gotten there a bit too soon. Perhaps the fact that she was working harder to maintain her balance through the “Dip” contributed to that impression. In any event, she kept finding to prevail by a half-length. The daughter of Bated Breath covered seven furlongs of the “good” Rowley Mile in 1:24.14.

Fast-finishing stablemate Stylistique, still a maiden but nonetheless with solid form in the book, nipped Cloak of Spirits for second and produced the all-Varian exacta. Under the Stars, the Princess Margaret (G3) winner who was most recently fifth in the Moyglare, checked in a close fourth. The O’Brien-trained Blissful, stepping up in class from her photo-finish score in the Ingabelle during Irish Champions Weekend, wound up sixth of eight.

Varian reiterated his interest in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, with the proviso that Daahyeh remain in good form ahead of the journey. Campaigned by Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad al Khalifa, the chestnut boasts a 5-3-2-0 line. She beat Raffle Prize in their mutual debut on this course back in May, a novice that yielded two Royal Ascot winners.

Raffle Prize, who shortened up to take the Queen Mary (G2), tussled with Godolphin’s colt Earthlight missing narrowly in the Prix Morny (G1) last out. She’s heavily favored in Saturday’s Cheveley Park (G1), while Earthlight meets fellow unbeaten Mums Tipple and Siskin (and O’Brien’s Monarch of Egypt) in the Middle Park (G1) one race later.

British-bred Daahyeh is out of Affluent, an Oasis Dream half-sister to Group 2-winning speedster Deportivo and Group 3 scorer So Beloved. This is the further family of champion turf mare Wandesta.

The ensuing Group 2 on the card, the Joel S. (G2), featured the return to action of Godolphin’s Benbatl. Last seen playing second fiddle to the incomparable Winx in the 2018 Cox Plate (G1), the Saeed bin Suroor veteran showed no rust off the 11-month layoff. Indeed, Benbatl ran his rivals ragged in a five-length wire job for Oisin Murphy, clocking the mile in 1:35.60.

Those rivals were no slouches. Favored King of Comedy, the runner-up in the St James’s Palace (G1) and fourth in the Juddmonte International (G1), had to settle for second. Third-placer Zaaki was coming off another Group 3 tally in the Strensall (G3), class-climbing fourth UAE Jewel was suffering his first loss, and fifth Happy Power had finished fourth in the Sussex (G1) and third in the Celebration Mile (G2) in his last pair. The trailing Anna Nerium has been off form for a while, but even she sports a win in the Princess Elizabeth (G3) on Derby Day at Epsom earlier this summer.

Bin Suroor indicated that Benbatl has options on Champions Day October 19, either sticking to a mile for the Queen Elizabeth II (G1) or going back up to 1 1/4 miles for the Champion (G1), and a venture to Germany is another consideration. The only definite plan is for the 2018 Dubai World Cup Carnival star to grace Meydan again in 2020.