Ever-improving Battaash ready for a golden summer

Jockey Jim Crowley riding Battaash wins the Race 6 Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp during the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Race Day on October 1, 2017 in Chantilly, France. (Getty Images)
Updated 24 May 2018
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Ever-improving Battaash ready for a golden summer

LONDON: When you have the world’s best five-furlong sprinter, it is an ominous warning to all when connections believe he might be getting better.
Battaash had just finished his morning canter at Faringdon Place Stables based in Lambourn outside London in preparation for Saturday’s Group Two Temple Stakes at Haydock Park racecourse. The four-year-old had walked back to his stables leisurely and was rolling around on the wood shavings. And then came the thunderclap.
“He’s only still playing at the game at the moment,” said Charlie Hills, Battaash’s trainer. “He is still quite immature mentally. He has lots of ability. The more racing for him, the better. He is a bigger horse now. At the moment there is no limit.
“I think there is something freakish about him. He almost looks as if he is going twice as fast as any other horse. It is quite scary.”
Battaash progressed through the ranks last season at a rapid rate. He broke the track record at Sandown Park racecourse in July. Although his first try at Group One level ended with a reluctance to enter the stalls ahead of the Nunthorpe Stakes at York, in which he was disappointing in fourth, he bounced back in some style to win the Prix l’Abbaye de Longchamp by an incredible four lengths.
Trainers talking up their horses is nothing new, but Hills has a reference point. Three seasons ago he guided the now-retired Muhaarar through a golden summer. The crack sprinter won the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, the Group One July Cup at Newmarket, beat the best sprinters in France at Deauville and then came back to Ascot to the win Champions Sprint Stakes before retiring on a high at just three years of age.
Both horses are owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, the brother of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid. His racing manager, Angus Gold, also has a lot of faith in Battaash but makes a clear distinction between the two horses.
“Muhaarar was a much more straightforward horse,” he said. “Everybody closest to him thought he had the scope to at least stay seven furlongs, if not a mile. The only time we tried it was in the French Guineas and he was drawn in the middle of Paris and had little chance.
“Battaash is different and is smaller. He is all speed and seems to have a mind of his own. Last year at York he was in a bad mood in the morning, a bad mood in the afternoon.”
Dane O’Neill will ride Battaash against 10 rivals in the Group Two contest as Jim Crowley, Sheikh Hamdan’s first retained jockey, is required in Ireland to ride his Elarqam, who is favorite for the Irish 2000 Guineas.
Elarqam was fourth behind Coolmore’s Saxon Warrior in the English 2000 Guineas three weeks ago and was declared with 10 others for the Curragh contest on Thursday.
Godolphin’s Charlie Appleby will saddle Symbolization, while Aidan O’Brien seeks his 12th win in the race with Gustav Klimt, Breeders’ Cup winner US Navy Flag, Threeandfourpence and Spanish Point.


Godolphin happy with Thunder Snow ahead of Dubai World Cup defense

Updated 25 March 2019
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Godolphin happy with Thunder Snow ahead of Dubai World Cup defense

  • Five-year old bidding to become first horse to win back-to-back Dubai World Cups.
  • $12 million race takes place at Meydan on Saturday.

LONDON: Thunder Snow is preparing well as he bids to become the first horse to win back-to-back Dubai World Cups, according to Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
The five-year-old memorably won the showcase $12 million race at Meydan by five and three-quarter lengths, winning in a track record time last year. He returned to the track on Super Saturday two weeks ago, finishing second in the Group 1 Al-Maktoum Challenge Round Three.
And Godolphin are expecting big things from him in the famous race. Bin Suroor, the most successful handler in the history of the 2000m dirt feature with eight winners to his name, is feeling confident.
“He did his final serious piece of work on Saturday and went very well indeed,” the Godolphin trainer said. “He needed his Super Saturday outing — his first run since November — badly and has come on a lot for it. We expect him to run a big race under conditions we know suit him, but obviously it is a good race.”
Thunder Snow has already made history as the only horse to win both the Group 2 UAE Derby and Group 1 Dubai World Cup, but if he is to win this Saturday then he will be revered for years to come.
One of his big rivals in the race will be Yoshida. Trained by Bill Mott he arrived in Dubai on March 19 in preparation for the cash-rich race. The Japanese-bred son of Heart’s Cry landed in the Emirate off a sixth-place finish in the inaugural Group 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational at Gulfstream Park.
He won the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, as well as the prestigious Woodward at Saratoga last year and Riley Mott, assistant to his father Bob, said Yoshida is looking good ahead of the big race.
“He’s settled in really well,” he said. “He traveled great and we’re very happy with him. The facilities here are top class. This is my seventh time over here and we’re treated very well.”
Yoshida went out just after 7:00 a.m. in Monday to stretch his legs over the famous dirt track.
“He just had a routine gallop this morning and we let him stand in the gate. Nothing too serious,” Mott said.
Jose Ortiz, who has piloted Yoshida though his last two starts and was aboard for the Grade 1 score at Churchill Downs, will make his first appearance in Dubai. Mott said he expects Ortiz, who guided Yoshida to a closing fourth-place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, will have plenty of options in the 2000m race.
“It sounds like there’s a lot of pace from the local horses, but we have a horse that’s pretty versatile in the way he runs,” Mott said. “He’s able to adapt to the pace scenario. It’s just a matter of how the race develops in front of him.”