Benbatl popular, but bookies still bracing for Winx wounds

Benbatl has been the best backed horse to beat Winx in a couple of years according to some bookmakers as punters slowly warm to the European raider crashing the Cox Plate party.

While Winx still remains a horror for result for most oddsmakers despite her cramped $1.22 price, there is growing interest in Caulfield Stakes winner Benbatl providing a worthy challenge in Winx's bid for a fourth Cox Plate.

Battle royale: Benbatl has plenty of support to cause a Cox Plate boilover.

Battle royale: Benbatl has plenty of support to cause a Cox Plate boilover.Credit:Racing Photos

It seems almost inconceivable Chris Waller's mare will taste defeat chasing Australian racing immortality, but no horse has attracted as much support against Winx in recent times.

Benbatl was a rock solid $9 second favourite with most bookmakers on Friday night, despite satchel swingers bracing for a flood of money on Winx before jump time on Saturday.

"He's been the best backed second favourite against her for a couple of years which shows the punters aren't shying away from thinking he can cause a boilover," BlueBet's Michael Sullivan said.

Added BetEasy's Matt Tripp: "There's been twice as much backing for Benbatl to beat Winx than on any other horse in last year's Cox Plate.

"But she's still very popular and maybe the drama of the week has created extra interest in her as we're holding significantly more money on Winx at the same stage heading into this year's Cox Plate than last year's."

Most of the confidence in Benbatl has been generated by his ability to settle ahead of Winx in what shapes a muddling run Cox Plate as Saeed bin Suroor's stable chases a third Australian group 1 win in as many weeks. Best Solution won the Caulfield Cup last week.

Benbatl's trainer and jockey Oisin Murphy have been insistent their horse ideally won't be forced to lead in the race as a Mexican stand-off ensues over which galloper will set the Cox Plate pace.

But it still hasn't deterred some of Winx's most ardent backers.

If she was to surpass Kingston Town as the only horse to win the Cox Plate four times she will rip millions out of bookmakers' bags across the country given her popularity.

Put it this way, it's been a lot easier to lay Winx at $1.22 than it has been to lay Benbatl at $9.50

"Put it this way, it's been a lot easier to lay Winx at $1.22 than it has been to lay Benbatl at $9.50," Tabcorp's Glenn Munsie said. "They just want to be on her and she accounts for 90 per cent of the money.

"But in Winx's last 15 runs there's only been five horses that have started in single figures against her and Benbatl looks like he'll become the sixth."

Sportsbet reported a $45,000 bet on Benbatl at $10 earlier this week.

"Winx still holds more than 70 per cent of the market, but there have actually been more individual bets on Benbatl this week," Sportsbet's Joel Caine said. "Yet the volume of money coming in for Winx means we've already wound her price in this week from $1.25 into $1.22."

Humidor ($17) was a distant third favourite with BetEasy on Friday while Irish raider Rostropovich, which some have touted as the leader despite being aimed at the Melbourne Cup, was on the fourth line of betting at $31.

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