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.


Arsenal open US tour with 3-0 friendly win in Colorado

Updated 16 July 2019
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Arsenal open US tour with 3-0 friendly win in Colorado

LOS ANGELES: Brazilian Gabriel Martinelli scored in his Arsenal debut Monday as the English Premier League club launched their pre-season tour of the US with a 3-0 friendly win over the Colorado Rapids.

Bukayo Saka and James Olayinka also scored for the Gunners, who cruised to victory at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in suburban Denver.

Martinelli, the 18-year-old forward signed from Ituano on July 2, was given a surprise start in attack by Unai Emery and sent an early chance wide.

Saka, 17, was an energetic presence and put Arsenal up 1-0 in the 13th minute as he collected a through-ball from Eddie Nketiah.

Another teenager — 18-year-old Olayinka —  doubled the score in the 29th, seizing a stray pass from defense and racing in to fire into the top left corner of the net.

Martinelli, having missed his early chance, capped the scoring in the 61st when he slotted home a cross from close range.

The Rapids, in the midst of the Major League Soccer season, fielded a mostly reserve side that featured several players from the lower-rung Colorado Springs Switchbacks.

Arsenal, too, started a reserve team as they begin their build up to the Premier League season after again failing to secure a Champions League berth.

The tour has not started without controversy. Captain Laurent Koscielny refused to travel to the US, and a group of influential Arsenal supporters’ organizations published a statement on Monday hitting out at Stan Kroenke’s “passive ownership.”

Under a hashtag “WeCareDo You” the statement decried a “soulless” atmosphere at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium and a lack of transfer strategy.

Kroenke, who began investing in the club in 2007 through his company Kroenke Sports Enterprises and took full ownership in 2018, also owns the Rapids as well as the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams.