Battaash retains Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes after fighting back from two length deficit in 40mph winds and rain softened ground to take victory
- Battaash defied odds to retain the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes with victory
- Jim Crowley on-board Battaash fought back from two lengths down to win
- They battled it through 40mph winds and ground softened by heavy rain
Battaash toughed it out as he defied 40mph winds and ground softened by rain to land the Group One Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes for the second year running.
Time was when such obstacles would have tripped up the fastest horse in training but the gelding who was once the unpredictable Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde of Flat racing has developed into Mr Consistency and the 1-2 favourite dug deep to beat 22-1 runner-up Que Amoro by a length.
Victory for the Charlie Hills-trained gelding completed a brilliant afternoon for his jockey Jim Crowley and owner Sheik Hamdan Al Maktoum, who completed 127-1 four-timer with Owen Burrows-trained Minzaal (Gimcrack Stakes) and John Gosden-trained pair, Enbihaar (Lonsdale Stakes) and Alfaatik (Sky Bet Handicap).
Jim Crowley on board Battaash on their way to winning at York Racecourse on Friday
Battaash did well to cut back a two-length deficit to win The Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes
But it was Battaash who stole the show as he cut back a two-length deficit at half-way to haul in the Michael Dods-trained runner-up to win going away with Moss Gill a further two lengths back in third.
Crowley said: ‘He is the horse of a lifetime. If you get one in your career like him you are lucky. He had to be a man today. He stuck his neck down. We went a serious gallop and there was a strong tail wind blowing us towards the stands rail.
‘In the past, he has often won his races by half-way so fair play to the second who has run a mighty race.’
York has not always been a happy hunting ground for Battaash. He has twice been beaten in the Nunthorpe. Next up should be the Prix De L’Abbaye at Longchamp on Arc day, where the heavy ground did for him last year.
Hills admitted a repeat of those conditions might mean a change of plan. The trainer added: ‘The Abbaye is the obvious route to take but if the ground is like last year I’d say we’d probably look elsewhere.’
By that stage of the season, the few options include the Breeders’ Cup, a target Sheik Hamdan has been reluctant to chase with Battaash in the past.
Crowley described Battaash as ‘the horse of a lifetime’ after riding away to victory on Friday
Crowley and Sheik Hamdan have had what the jockey described as a ‘golden summer’ with mass successes at both Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood.
In Minzaal they have a horse for the future. Burrows, who has a St Leger candidate for Sheik Hamdan in Geoffrey Freer Stakes winner Hukum, sees the smooth two-length Gimcrack Stakes winner as a potential candidate for next season’s Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot with more immediately a shot at the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket next month.
Meanwhile, Dods, later successful with Callum Rodriguez-ridden Brunch in the Sky Bet Mile Stakes, may look to the Group One Flying Five at the Curragh next month with Que Amoro.
The man who landed back-to-back Nunthorpes with Mecca’s Angel and won a Group One sprint prize with Mabs Cross, has unearthed another speedy filly and one who cost only 28,000 guineas.