Ever-improving Battaash ready for a golden summer

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

Ever-improving Battaash ready for a golden summer

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.