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Dark Angel's Battaash Leaves King George Rivals In His Dust

Battaash |

In an exhibition of pure sprinting prowess, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum's Battaash (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) brought all his power to bear on his rivals on Friday to register back-to-back successes in Goodwood's G2 King George Qatar S. Despite the contrasting ground conditions to the easy turf he encountered 12 months ago and the obvious questions posed by defeat in the June 19 G1 King's Stand S. at Royal Ascot, the bay attracted heavy support as the 8-11 favourite and was in front before he had raced two furlongs. Clear soon after, the 4-year-old gave Jim Crowley little to do and hit the line with a four-length margin separating him and the 2014 and 2016 winner of this race Take Cover (GB) (Singspiel {Ire}), with the 2015 winner Muthmir (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) in third, a half length away. “He's a man now and I'm so pleased with the way he is behaving,” trainer Charlie Hills commented. “It was pretty special, he's some horse. Jim always looked in control. He is an exceptional horse and I think that could well be a career-best.”

Battaash was a raw sophomore when he came to this rain-drench meeting in 2017, but he had already served notice that he was from a privileged place in Sandown's Listed Scurry S. and G3 Sprint S. and he duly confirmed his otherworldliness here. What he did have to weigh against his talent was an aversion to the stalls and a tendency to waste vital energy during the preliminaries which was most evident when he worked himself up before his first group 1 test in York's G1 Nunthorpe S. in August. Disappointing when fourth on that occasion, he bounced back in style with all his potency restored by the efforts of Charlie Hills's team in the interim when besting Marsha (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}) by four lengths in the G1 Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp at Chantilly in October. If there was a glimpse that mental frailties remained on his comeback success in the G2 Temple S. at Haydock May 26, where he made a drama out of a straightforward task, they were mostly dispelled by his display at the Royal Meeting but his ego was dented there by Blue Point (Ire) (Shamardal) and he simply had to win this.

Drawn on his own out wide and separated from the rest by a partition, Battaash exited the gates reassuringly alertly but had only Take Cover for company initially before Jim Crowley opted to leave that race specialist isolated up the centre. After a furlong, a line of four of the fastest horses in the country were already applying the pressure with Take Cover, Battaash, who had crossed over to join last year's G3 Molecomb S. winner Havana Grey (GB) (Havana Gold {Ire}) at the front of the main group, and Kachy (GB) (Kyllachy {GB}) on the stand's rail matching strides. Soon after, Shadwell's beau ideal was in control and from halfway the King George had become two races in one with the dual focus on the lone charger and on the main race which involved the fight for the silver medal between the hard-knocking Goodwood lovers.

Charlie Hills was relieved as well as delighted afterwards. “It was fantastic and apart from the fact that they split a bit at the start and he had no company it all went to plan,” he said. “Jim had no option but to let him go forward. He's been training a lot better at home since Ascot and Gary Witheford has done a great job with him at the stalls. He's growing up and I think that's the best he's behaved in the whole of his career. There is a great programme ahead with three weeks between each of three races, starting with the [Aug. 24] G1 Nunthorpe. It will be York, then Ireland [for the Sept. 16 G1 Flying Five at The Curragh] and France [for the Oct. 7 G1 Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp]. I don't think the Everest is on the agenda, as it would rule a lot of races out over here, but the Breeders' Cup might be something we think about.” Crowley added, “There isn't a horse in Europe fast enough to lead him. This year I've noticed he's a bigger, stronger horse. I don't think he was in the same form at Ascot as today. Last year I got to the start early at York and it blew his brains. I can't wait. I've been lucky with some good sprinters, such as Ertijaal in Dubai, but he tops the lot and is as good a horse as I've probably ever ridden.” Shadwell also enjoyed third place with Muthmir and his trainer William Haggas said, “He's in a rich vein of form and this ground is right up his street. I'm sure there's another big one in him, but he won't be taking on Battaash again.”

Battaash is the first foal out of the maiden Anna Law (Ire) (Lawman {Fr}), who is a half-sister to four black-type performers headed by Shadwell's smart Etlaala (GB) (Selkirk) who captured the G2 Champagne S. and Bird Key (GB) (Cadeaux Genereux {GB}). The latter produced last year's G2 Duke of York S. scorer and G1 QIPCO British Champions Sprint S. and G1 Diamond Jubilee S. runner-up Tasleet (GB) (Showcasing {GB}) and another to take high rank in this category for the operation. The third dam Noirmant (Ire) (Dominion {GB}) is a half to Sadler's Wells's G1 Prix Royal-Oak winner Braashee and the four-time group 3 winner Adam Smith (GB), and to the G3 Nell Gwyn S. winner Ghariba (Ire) (Final Straw {GB}). The latter is in turn the dam of the listed-winning Promptly (Ire) (Lead On Time), who herself produced the G3 Autumn S. scorer and G1 Racing Post Trophy runner-up Fantastic View (Distant View). Anna Law also has a yearling filly by Gutaifan (Ire) and a foal full-sister to Battaash.

Friday, Goodwood, Britain
KING GEORGE QATAR S.-G2, £312,000, Goodwood, 8-3, 3yo/up, 5fT, :56.50, g/f.
1–BATTAASH (IRE), 131, g, 4, by Dark Angel (Ire)
1st Dam: Anna Law (Ire), by Lawman (Fr)
2nd Dam: Portelet (GB), by Night Shift
3rd Dam: Noirmant (Ire), by Dominion (GB)
(200,000gns Ylg '15 TAOCT). O-Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum; B-Ballyphilip Stud (IRE); T-Charles Hills; J-Jim Crowley. £176,935. Lifetime Record: Hwt. 3yo-Fr at 5-7f & G1SW-Fr, G1SP-Eng, 13-7-1-3, $1,047,907. Werk Nick Rating: A+++ *Triple Plus*. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Take Cover (GB), 128, g, 11, Singspiel (Ire)–Enchanted (GB), by Magic Ring (Ire). O/B-Norcroft Park Stud (GB); T-David Griffiths. £67,080.
3–Muthmir (Ire), 128, g, 8, Invincible Spirit (Ire)–Fairy of The Night (Ire), by Danehill. (130,000gns Ylg '11 TAOC). O-Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum; B-Sunderland Holdings Ltd (IRE); T-William Haggas. £33,571.
Margins: 4, HF, NK. Odds: 0.70, 20.00, 16.00.
Also Ran: Mr Lupton (Ire), Kachy (GB), Havana Grey (GB), Stone of Destiny (GB), Heartache (GB), Main Desire (Ire), Sioux Nation, Duke of Firenze (GB). Click for the Racing Post result or the free catalogue-style pedigree. Video, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

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