One of last year's prominent European three-year-olds, Benbatl, has already been back in action in 2018 and he has made a perfect to the campaign, signalling that he may be set to make an impact when he returns to Newmarket.
He kicked off with a two-and-a-quarter-length defeat of Emotionless in the Group 3 Singspiel Stakes over nine furlongs on turf at Meydan in January – his first outing for four months – and then followed-up with victory in the Group 2 Al Rashidiya over the same course and distance, beating Bay Of Poets by three and three-quarter lengths.
These performances demonstrate his well-being and indicate that he is at least as good now as he was last year. He still has some progress to make if he is to be up to winning at the highest level in Europe, but with his connections and pedigree it would be no surprise if does that.
The son of Dalham Hall Stud's outstanding stallion Dubawi (by Dubai Millennium) did not make his racecourse debut until last April, and that seven-length score over seven furlongs at Doncaster was followed by three good efforts in defeat.
He was a two-length third to Eminent in the Group 3 Craven Stakes at Newmarket, chased home three-quarter-length winner Permian in the Group 2 Dante Stakes at York and then finished fifth to Wings Of Eagles in the Group 1 Derby at Epsom, beaten by just three and a half lengths.
Less than three weeks later he picked up his first pattern success with a half-length score against Orderofthegarter in the Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes over 10 furlongs at Ascot.
He was only fifth behind Enable in the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at the same venue and a disappointing favourite when unplaced in a mile Group 3 on heavy ground at Haydock in early September. The latter could have been due to the trip or the ground, or both.
Benbatl is the first foal out of the high-class Nahrain (by Selkirk), whom Roger Varian trained to win five of her 10 starts.
She was unraced at two, took the Group 1 Prix de l'Opera by a nose at Longchamp before losing her unbeaten record with a second-place finish to Perfect Shirl in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Churchill Downs, and added a win in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes over 10 furlongs at Belmont Park at four.
A half-sister to dual mile listed scorer Baharah (by Elusive Quality), she is out of Bahr (by Generous), who won the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes and Group 3 Musidora Stakes. That talented chestnut also won the Listed Washington Singer Stakes, she was runner-up in the Group 1 Oaks at Epsom and third in both the Group 1 Irish Oaks and Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational Handicap, making her one of the best representatives of her sire.
Bahr's half-sister Clerio (by Soviet Star) got her best win in the Group 3 Matron Stakes at the Curragh and, in addition to being the dam of a stakes winner, she is the grandam of Our Rokkii (by Roc De Cambres) who won the one-mile Group 1 Toorak Handicap in 2016.
Lady Of The Sea (by Mill Reef), who is the third dam of Benbatl, won just once but was out of New Zealand classic heroine and champion La Mer (by Copenhagen), which made her a half-sister to Listed Ballycorus Stakes winner Cipriani (by Habitat) and to Loughmore (by Artaius), the winning grandam of Group 1 Sires' Produce Stakes scorer Little Jamie (by St Jude).
The Group 1 Jebel Hatta would seem a likely next target for Benbatl, and should he win that and/or other top-level events in 2018, then his appeal as a prospective stallion would be enhanced.