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Battaash primed to storm record books

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'Occasionally we ask ourselves which Battaash will turn up; the very good one or the brilliant one' (stock photo)

'Occasionally we ask ourselves which Battaash will turn up; the very good one or the brilliant one' (stock photo)

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'Occasionally we ask ourselves which Battaash will turn up; the very good one or the brilliant one' (stock photo)

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 by four lengths in this race two years ago, he posted one of his best performances, up there with his Prix de l'Abbaye four-length 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.

© Daily Telegraph, London

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