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Those with a need for speed should look no further than Battaash.
He has put up some spectacular displays of speed and is the highest-rated sprinter in the world after his blistering display in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York on his latest start.
The five-year-old turned the five-furlong Group One feature at York into a one-horse race and smashed the course record previously held since 1990 by Dayjur in the same colours of owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.
Leading two furlongs out under Jim Crowley, Battaash spreadeagled the field as he cruised to victory by three and three-quarter lengths from Soldier’s Call, with Aidan O’Brien’s So Perfect another length back in third.
He was making spectacular amends for finishing fourth in the previous two renewals of the race.
Trainer Charlie Hills said: “All the chat saying he doesn’t like York and he’s broken the track record, and that’s Dayjur’s track record as well.
“He was so cool and calm. It was a good decision to keep him at home last night. He loves his stable at home and it’s nice to keep a routine with him.
“I was really pleased with the draw and Jim [Crowley] gave him an absolute peach of a ride. He got a lovely tow in there. This is some horse – he’s seriously fast.”
His previous exploits havr including a record three successive wins in the Group 2 Qatar King George Stakes at Goodwood.
Being a gelding, he should be a standing dish in the top sprints for many years to come.
The son of Dark Angel has shown speed from day one but it was only in 2017, as a three-year-old, that he really began to flourish – winning over five furlongs at Sandown in a course record time before following up there in a Group 3 contest and then dazzling in the King George Stakes .
After those three victories he was a leading fancy for the 2017 Nunthorpe Stakes but he got restless before the start – a trait his connections have always had to guard against – and he finished a below-par fourth in a dramatic renewal won by Marsha.
Battaash emphatically turned the tables in the Prix de l’Abbaye at Chantilly – putting up an electric performance to win by four lengths.
In 2018 he returned with a comeback win in the Temple Stakes at Haydock before going off at 9/4 for the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot. He behaved well before the race, which his connections had been anxious about, but when the gates opened did too much, too soon and was collared late on by Blue Point.
Hills said: “He ran a great race and it looked like we had it won. We didn’t really want to be making the running but he broke so well that we had no choice. The winner’s a very good horse.”
Crowley added: “I didn’t expect him to jump so fast – he missed the kick last time, and I left it to him today and he was like a bullet out of a gun. He’s an extremely fast horse and when he breaks like that, there’s not much you can do. After that – he’s not the sort of horse you pull around, you just sit, and he just got tired the last 50 yards. It’s a hard track to make the running on as you are always there to be shot at.”
Next time out Battaash successfully defended his Qatar King George Stakes at Goodwood in superb style and as a consequence he was sent off 4-5 for the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes. But, like 12 months earlier, he failed to reproduce his best in finishing fourth.
He was also not at his best when defending his Prix de l’Abbaye crown but he began 2019 with a bang – producing an electric display to become the first back-to-back winner of the Temple Stakes since Mind Games in 1995-96. Beforehand, Hills had said he had never been 100 per cent happy with Battaash in 2018 but that he had been delighted with him this term.
As a two-year-old, Battaash won one of his five races but was gelded halfway through the campaign because of his nature.
These days, he is a calmer character – but still explosive when it matters most.
BCS Career statistics
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