Bat­taash goes for fourth King Ge­orge

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Racing - By Mar­cus Army­tage

In both the Good­wood Cup and Sus­sex Stakes, the ul­ti­mately cosy win­ners, Stradi­var­ius and Mo­haather, hav­ing been hemmed in by a com­bi­na­tion of the course’s unique to­pog­ra­phy and the way the races were run, still had a lot to do a fur­long out. Like all the best books, the out­come had to wait un­til the last page.

That should very much not be the case to­day when the Char­lie Hills-trained sprinter Bat­taash at­tempts to fol­low Stradi­var­ius into the his­tory books by winning a fourth King Ge­orge Qatar Stakes.

In this ex­tra­or­di­nary sea­son, many of the key races have been dom­i­nated by six-year-olds; En­able, Stradi­var­ius and Bat­taash, whose King’s Stand win at Royal As­cot gave him a clean sweep of Europe’s top five-fur­long sprints.

Oc­ca­sion­ally we ask our­selves which Bat­taash will turn up; the very good one or the bril­liant one. Hills in­sists that the truly bril­liant one prob­a­bly only turns up once a sea­son.

But we have never had to ask that ques­tion in this Group Two at Good­wood and against only six ri­vals – the small­est King Ge­orge field he has faced – and none of them of the cal­i­bre of either Prof­itable,

Take Cover or the Aus­tralian mare Houtzen, the horses that have chased him home in the past three years, even Bat­taash in very or­di­nary mode should still win this.

He loves Good­wood and, when he beat Take Cover four lengths in this race two years ago, he posted one of his best per­for­mances, up there with his Prix de l’Ab­baye fourlength de­feat of Mar­sha, his three and three quarter-length beat­ing of Sol­dier’s Call in last year’s Nun­thorpe or his two and a quarter-length vic­tory over Equilat­eral at As­cot last month.

Some at­trib­uted his King’s Stand win – at last – to the ad­van­tage con­ferred on such an edgy char­ac­ter by the fact that there was no crowd. If that was the case it should equally play to his favour to­day, 24 hours be­fore the first crowd is al­lowed back on to a racecourse to­mor­row.

“He’s in great form,” Hills said. “He has so much tac­ti­cal speed and he’s not a big horse, so he han­dles the un­du­la­tions and when he rolls off the hill he gets the oth­ers out of their com­fort zone. It’s his home track. He’s got a penalty, but he’s done that twice be­fore.”

Jim Crow­ley is look­ing for­ward to the ride. “He’s the fastest I’ve rid­den by far,” he said. “He is the ‘Bat­mo­bile’. He’s a very spe­cial horse that has be­come syn­ony­mous with Good­wood. It would mean the world to ev­ery­one in­volved with him if he can win it a fourth time, but we’ve got to go out and get the job done. It’s hard enough to ride one win­ner at Good­wood.”

A big­ger ques­tion is what is likely to fol­low him home and Lib­erty Beach, a course win­ner him­self, looks the most prob­a­ble can­di­date as the form of his Sandown sec­ond to A’Ali was franked when the lat­ter won in Ire­land last time out.

In the Uni­bet Golden Mile, Prompt­ing can make the long jour­ney from York­shire pay off for David O’Meara.

Clean sweep: Bat­taash’s win in the King’s Stand added to his five-fur­long suc­cesses

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