Yorhshire quartet set to face Battaash at Glorious Goodwood
Victory in the King George Qatar Stakes would see them win the historic five furlong sprint for an unprecedented fourth successive year.
Very much a prep race for Battaash’s much anticipated defence of the Nunthorpe Stakes at York’s Ebor Festival next month, the Charlie Hills-trained sprinter has to concede weight to his rivals.
They include John Quinn’s Liberty Beach, third to Battaash in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot under Jason Hart, and the Kevin Ryan-trained and Tom Eaves-ridden Glass Slippers who was back in fifth.
Worthy adversaries on their day, they’re joined on the picturesque Sussex Downs by Karl Burke’s Dubai Station and Ornate for the David Griffiths team whose now retired Take Cover won the 2014 and 2016 renewals.
Part of the Qipco British Champions Series, Crowley is brimming with confidence following the success of Mohaather for his retained owner Sheikh Hamdam al Maktoum whose horses remain in dominant form.
“Battaash is the fastest horse I’ve ridden by far, he is the batmobile,” enthused Crowley, 42, who has eight wins to his name on Battaash and believes that Goodwood’s downhill undulations, and quick ground, explain the horse’s record at the track.
“He is a very special horse that has become synonymous with Goodwood and it would mean the world to everyone involved if he can win the race for the fourth time.
“We’ve got to go out there and get the job done. It’s hard enough to get one winner at the Qatar Goodwood Festival, so if Battaash was to get four wins in such a prestigious race, that would be something special.”
Meanwhile connections of Communique expect him to go “very close” in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate Glorious Stakes.
Middleham trainer Mark Johnston’s well-travelled five-year-old is a dual winner at Group Two level and also has a victory at Goodwood to his name, having justified favouritism with a lucrative handicap success at this meeting two years ago.
Communique is winless in 2020 thus far, but has shown enough in finishing second in both the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket and the Silver Cup at York on his last couple of starts to suggest his turn might not be far away.
Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father, said: “He was little bit disappointing in the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot last month, but I thought we forced the pace too much that day and set it up for those in behind.
“He won at this meeting as a three-year-old and did nothing wrong in defeat at Newmarket or at York last time. He is solid and consistent and everyone knows what he is – we are not hiding anything.
“He is very exposed at this level, but he is reliable. The track and ground will suit him and it doesn’t look a particularly strong renewal as there is nothing in there that looks as though it could be above this grade. He should go very close really.”
Meanwhile the British Horseracing Authority has published fixtures for September to December as part of efforts to get the sport back on track.
It is similar to the original schedule – York, for example, races on September 6 and then its season-ending double-header on October 9 and 10.
Doncaster’s St Leger meeting in September, and Wetherby’s prestigious Charlie Hall Chase fixture, also remain unchanged.
A maximum of five fixtures will take place on any day to ensure the sport can continue to successfully implement the numerous Covid-related protocols, and jockeys will continue to be restricted to one meeting a day.
Minimum prize money values will increase at all levels from September 1, with most races at Class 2 and below to return to pre-Covid levels in a boost for owners and the sport’s grassroots.
Richard Wayman, Chief Operating Officer of the BHA, said: “This increase in minimum prize money levels across all levels from September is a critical part of the sport’s recovery plans.
“Owners have displayed great patience in recent months and it is crucial that prize money grows at all levels as quickly as possible. Whilst there is a long way to go, the increase in minimum values together with the re-introduction of the appearance money scheme are clearly steps in the right direction.”
He added: “It is evident that the return to a more familiar fixture list, at least for now, will provide a boost to industry revenues, particularly as we look forward to crowds returning to racecourses later in the year.
“This has only been possible due to the Levy Board significantly increasing its support of prize money compared with its original plans.”
Aramon gave the father and son combination of Willie and Patrick Mullins a second Guinness Galway Hurdle success in three years with a fine weight-carrying performance in the Ballybrit feature.
The seven-year-old looked a class act as he followed up his triumph in the Grade Three Grimes Hurdle from five weeks earlier, having been second in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
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