IT was always going to take a special sprinter to deny Yorkshire’s Take Cover in the King George Stakes at Goodwood – and the brilliant Battaash could not have been more impressive.
Seeking a record third win in the prestigious five-furlong dash, the David Griffiths-trained Take Cover made a slick start but the softer than ideal underfoot conditions began to dent his acceleration.
Yet, while the Bawtry horse, now 10 years old, battled on tenaciously to finish a far from disgraced fourth, Battaash oozed class under champion jockey Jim Crowley and could pose a formidable challenge to American challenger Lady Aurelia in York’s Nunthorpe Stakes later this month.
As highlighted by The Yorkshire Post yesterday, Battaash was the horse to beat and the convincing manner of this victory suggests the victor is a Group One winner in the making for Crowley and trainer Charlie Hills.
Crowley said: “I don’t think I’ve ridden a better sprinter. I went to ride him at Charlie’s and it was like riding a motorbike up the gallops. He was very fast.
“I had to keep a lid on him and he’s got plenty left in the tank. I was worried about the ground a little bit but Charlie wasn’t.
“He was quite adamant he’d go on the ground, but he’ll probably be even more effective on better ground.”
As for Hills, he’s relishing the prospect of taking on the Wesley Ward-trained Lady Aurelia on the Knavesmire. “I was delighted with his performance,” he said. “He’s just a three-year-old who’s improving and going through the ranks.
“It’s the Nunthorpe next, all being well. I think five furlongs at York should really suit him. He’ll have Lady Aurelia to contend with and that should make it a good race.”
Goodwood’s loss is Thirsk’s gain as Chiefofchiefs targets today’s £30,000 Totepool Summer Cup at the North Yorkshire track.
No trainer south of Malton has yet won the Summer Cup, which has its sixth renewal, but Newmarket-based Charlie Fellowes is very hopeful of breaking that hoodoo with his talented four-year-old who will be ridden by Stevie Donohoe.
“He is a lovely, big horse who takes his racing very well,” said Fellowes, whose charge was victorious at York on John Smith’s Cup day last month.
“He had been aimed at the Betfred Mile at Goodwood, but when he was balloted out, I always had the Summer Cup as an excellent fall-back position.
“It comes just 24 hours later and is an outstanding race with a really good pot, so it was always the intention to target it if Goodwood didn’t materialise.
Fellowes has fond memories of the Thirsk track, even though he has only had four runners there in the four seasons he has been training.
“I had a winner at Thirsk with a horse called Epsom Hill. He was a three-year-old running in a competitive handicap over 12 furlongs in pretty bottomless ground,” he recalled. “It was raining so hard that you could hardly see the race on television but he absolutely sluiced up and won in a canter.”