Any hint that the six-year-old speedster might be getting slower were dispelled in a scintillating King George Qatar Stakes which Jim Crowley’s mount won for a record fourth successive year.
The winning time of 55.62 seconds was half a second quicker than last year’s time of 56.20 seconds and gave the nearest pursuers, headed by the admirable Yorkshire sprinters Glass Slippers and Ornate, absolutely no chance.
Clear in front by halfway on a downhill track and drying ground that played to Battaash’s strengths, Crowley had time for a cheeky look over his shoulder entering the final furlong to assess his lead. It was a decisive one.
Now the winner of 12 races for trainer Charlie Hills and owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, Battaash – affectionately known as the Batmobile – is odds-on to defend the Group One Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes that he won so spectacularly at York last year.
His win completed a remarkable week for racing in which the Flat’s two other serial winners, Enable and Stradivarius, won their respective races to reaffirm their enduring popularity and longevity.
Yet Crowley, a former champion Flat jockey who began his racing career over jumps with Yorkshire racing legends Sue and Harvey Smith, believes there might be even more to come from the gelding who was immediately christened King George IV.
“He was good. He was getting a bit lonely out in front. It is really hard to find horses quick enough to lead him and he was in front a long way,” said Crowley.
“He was just idling and I had to give him a couple of taps to keep his mind on the job. He is so fast. He is very consistent now and, if a horse wants to take him on a race, good luck to them. He is so quick, he just kicks them off at halfway.
“He broke his own record in the race. It is a great team effort from everyone, from the team who put him in the stalls to Charlie (Hills, trainer), Bob (Grace) who looks after him, Victoria who rides him at home.”
Meanwhile, the aforementioned Hills was quick to acknowledge his horse’s growing following – even though no spectators were present at Goodwood.
“Battaash is so talented and we are very proud to have a horse like him in the yard,” he explained.
“He is a six-year-old now and racing is so lucky to have six-year-olds like Battaash, Enable and Stradivarius still doing their stuff.
“Just to be involved in a horse like him just means everything really.
“He has broken his own track record. It is brilliant. Four consecutive Group Twos takes some doing and I am just so proud of him.
“Battaash is not the biggest horse in the world, but he is well-balanced and a true athlete really. He might only have two more runs this year and for a six-year-old, he is lightly-raced really.
“We are looking forward to the Nunthorpe now. We’ll get that hurdle done and then look at the Abbaye (ParisLongchamp) probably. Who knows what is going to happen, it is a strange year and no-one really knows what the future holds.”
He added: “We’ll keep going until he tells us he is not what he is today.”
There were two Yorkshire successes – champion jockey Oisin Murphy and Malton trainer struck for a second win this week with Ventura Diamond responsible for their latest success.
Meanwhile, North Yorkshire trainer David O’Meara’s Prompting took the Unibet Summer Mile following a fine ride by Harry Bentley.
“This was a step up in class for him but I thought he certainly deserved to go up to this sort of class,” said the ever popular Bentley. “He has a lot of class, and off that weight he was always going to have a great chance.”
Today’s Stewards Cup sees Hey Jonesy bid for a sprint handicap double after winning the Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot for Hambleton trainer Kevin Ryan and jockey Kevin Stott.