Sport Horse Racing

Wednesday 18 September 2019

York in crosshairs after superb Battaash joins honours board

"He is all speed," said winning jockey Jim Crowley. Photo: PA

Marcus Armytage

Hot favourite Battaash was never going to make anyone rich at odds of 1/4, but the Charlie Hills-trained sprinter earned a spot on the racecourse honours board by becoming the first horse to win the King George Qatar Stakes three times.

On a day when the first four winners had all previously won at the idiosyncratic downland venue, no runner had better horses-for-courses credentials than Battaash.

But it was not quite the stroll of his first two wins after the Australian mare Houtzen, now trained by Martyn Meade, chased him hard to get within three-quarters of a length.

"We've worked out a good routine for him now and we will look forward to York (Nunthorpe Stakes in which he has been beaten twice)," said Hills. "We've got to go, it is the only five-furlong Group One left here. There is no reason why it shouldn't suit him. It takes a lot of doing to win a race like that three times and he was always in command."

"He is all speed," said winning jockey Jim Crowley. "He's the fastest five-furlong horse around and he doesn't really get much further. If there were four-and-a-half furlong races he'd be unbelievable.

"He was not as visually impressive today but he wasn't doing a lot and I was just hands and heels on him. I didn't want him to go on and win by five or six lengths and have a hard race because we have got other races for him this year."

Richard Hannon was still sore about the defeat of Threat in the Richmond Stakes on Thursday. However, Beat Le Bon, the winner of the Golden Mile and Billesdon Brook - which is "10lbs better at Goodwood than anywhere else" - won the Theo Fennell Oak Tree Stakes to just about restore his equilibrium. Both set a track record.

Last year Hannon had considered Beat Le Bon a potential Classic horse and although he may not be that now, he will, no doubt, have to step upwards out of handicaps after Pat Dobbs stuck tenaciously to the rail and a gap opened up beautifully for him to beat Vale Of Kent a length.

"He tried to get up the inside, he's mad, you can't do that, but he did it,"said Hannon. "You've got to give a lot of credit to Timmy Murphy (Grand National-winning jockey), who has got this horse to relax. Now he is so relaxed he would get the Gold Cup trip.

"I have always told his owners, Jared Sullivan and Charlie Noell, that I thought he was a good horse but they said 'don't give us that flannel!' I am right and they are wrong for a change."

Mark Johnston saddled three runners in the nursery and it was his 7/1 shot Homespin which struck gold under James Doyle. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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