Charles Hills’ high-class Battaash produced the performance of the week, and arguably the best sprint performance in the world this season, in slamming smart opposition by an effortless four lengths in the Group 2 King George Qatar Stakes at Glorious Goodwood on Friday.
Sent off the heavily supported 8/11 favourite, the Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum-owned four-year-old had been run down by Godolphin’s Blue Point inside the final furlong of the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, and had a point to prove back on the Sussex Downs as he sought to win the meeting’s big sprint for the second year in succession.
Dual race winner Take Cover, the admirable evergreen 11-year-old trained by David Griffiths, blasted off down the centre of the track and for a few moments matched strides with Battaash who Crowley sensibly eased back to the main group. Soon in front, the hot favourite then eased into a clear lead two furlongs out with all his rivals scrubbing away to try and bridge the gap. They couldn’t, and the gelded son of Dark Angel simply slammed his rivals into the canvas, scoring unchallenged by four lengths, with Take Cover (20/1) coming out best of the rest just ahead of another previous winner of the race, Muthmir (16/1), half a length back in third.
Battaash is now a top priced 11/10 with Betfair to land the Group 1 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York in three week’s time, the race in which he famously boiled over last year when Marsha landed a last-gasp success.
“I wanted to get a lead but I just couldn’t – even Take Cover couldn’t lead him – and when I saw the race developing on my left, I switched him across,” admitted a breathless Crowley.
“It worked out fine. He’s equally adept with soft or fast ground but he’s a bigger, stronger horse this year and it’s a great pleasure to be associated with a horse like that. He’s as good a horse as I’ve probably ever ridden. The Nunthorpe would be perfect. We know how to manage him now and I can’t wait.”