JIM CROWLEY and superstar sprinter Battaash finally ended their York jinx by winning the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes in a new course record on the Knavesmire.
The winning time of 55.90 seconds, eclipsing the time set by Willie Carson on the legendary Dayjur as long ago as 1990, saw Battaash win this Group One by three-and-three-quarter lengths – a phenomenal feat.
Like Dayjur, the winner runs in the iconic blue and white colours of Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum and the victory atones for Battaash disappointing in the 2017 and 2018 Nunthorpes.
Unlike the past two years, trainer Charlie Hills and his team drove the horse to York yesterday morning – they believe he might have been unsettled by the overnight stay in the past.
And it was a remarkable piece of riding by Crowley, a former champion jockey, who actually began his professional riding career competing under National Hunt rules for Yorkshire racing legends Sue and Harvey Smith.
Leading two furlongs out, Battaash streaked clear of Soldier’s Call, owned by Yorkshire businessman Steve Parkin, with Aidan O’Brien’s So Perfect another length back in third.
I was really pleased with the draw and Jim gave him an absolute peach of a ride. He got a lovely tow in there. This is some horse – he’s seriously fast.Trainer Charlie Hills
So Perfect’s stablemate Ten Sovereigns, winner of the July Cup, had to settle for sixth place.
Hills said: “Fantastic. All the chat saying he doesn’t like York and he’s broken the track record, and that’s Dayjur’s track record as well. He was so cool and calm. It was a good decision to keep him at home last night. He loves his stable at home and it’s nice to keep a routine with him.
“I was really pleased with the draw and Jim gave him an absolute peach of a ride. He got a lovely tow in there. This is some horse – he’s seriously fast.”
He added on plans: “He’s obviously been gelded so we can come back here again next year. I’d love to go to Ireland (Flying Five at the Curragh) with him in a few weeks and then hopefully go to France for the Prix de l’Abbaye and why not the Breeder’s Cup.”
Earlier Stradivarius – Flat racing’s money machine – scooped a £1m bonus for the second year running when landing the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup.
Now unbeaten in nine starts, it was another headline success for trainer John Gosden and jockey Frankie Dettori after Enable won the Yorkshire Oaks 24 hours earlier.
No one expected the bonus, an incentive to keep staying horses in training, to be won – never mind in successive years by the same champion.
Owned by Bjorn Nielsen, Stradivarius broke the track record as he denied the Mark Johnston-trained Dee Ex Bee for the third race in succession – the runner heads to the Doncaster Cup next month.
“I know he has a tremendous turn of foot, so I waited and waited – I waited to just before the furlong and said, ‘come on son, let’s go, let’s put this race to bed’,” enthused Dettori.
“You pull him out, he goes and thinks he’s done enough and wins by a length. Once I got into the wheels of the leaders, he did the rest. He’s a good horse – I’m just a passenger.”
Meanwhile, Royal Ascot runner-up Threat was rewarded for his consistency in the major two-year-old prizes when landing the Gimcrack Stakes for trainer Richard Hannon and jockey Oisin Murphy, this season’s leading rider.
Murphy said: “From the time the gates opened he was the winner. He’s going to get a mile I’d imagine.”
The winner, a leading contender for next year’s 2000 Guineas, pulled away from Lord Of The Lodge whose trainer Karl Burke was, nevertheless, delighted with the performance of his potential future star. “I quietly fancied him really, they’ve always thought a world of the winner – I hope he’s as good as they think he is!” said the Leyburn trainer.