'The horse of a lifetime' - Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid’s Battaash stars again at York
Jockey Jim Crowley praises 'amazing horse'
Jim Crowley described Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid’s speedball Battaash as “the horse of a lifetime” after his defence of the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York's Ebor festival.
Battaash won the five-furlong dash in a course record last year but this time he was made to work all the way to the line by Michael Dods' Que Amoro on the rain-softened conditions on Friday.
“He tried very hard,” Crowley, the retained jockey of Sheikh Hamdan, said of the six-year-old Dark Angel gelding.
“They went a serious gallop, but he was a real man and stuck his head out. In the past he has always won his races at halfway, so fair play to the second horse. He’s an amazing horse.
“We’re lucky to have him about and it’s fantastic for Sheikh Hamdan – he’s a big supporter of racing and has been for a long time and I’m glad I can repay him in some way. It’s been a golden summer.”
“He’s the horse of a lifetime, you get one in a career, a horse like this.”
Battaash was winning his third prize in as many starts this year, after coming home in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and the Group 2 King George Stakes at Goodwood in July.
Crowley also celebrated a four-timer, all in the silks of Sheikh Hamdan. He steered Alfaatik in the opening Class-2 handicap and took both the Group 2 prizes on Enbihaar and Minzaal.
The Charles Hills-trained Battaash battled through rain and gusty winds for his 13th win in 23 career starts.
“I was so proud of the horse today,” Hills said. “For me, that was probably the best run of his career because so many things were against him.
“He knuckled down and worked really hard. All credit to the horse. It was always going to be tough.
“His experience got him through today. On similar ground he's been beaten here as a three-year-old and a four-year-old, he's grown up and matured with age.
“He’s had to really work hard in very tricky conditions. There was a lot against him, the wind was howling, the pace was on the other side, but I think experience won him it today.
“If every horse I trained behaved like this today then it would be a very easy job. He was immaculate, the way he behaved – brilliant down at the start, just the ultimate professional now.
“We’ve been working hard on him the last four years, everybody knows it hasn’t been easy, but this season he’s probably been the best he’s ever been, especially down at the start.
“The second showed amazing speed and with the tailwind it can be hard to reel them in, so I knew it was going to be tough."
Hills suggested the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye de Longhchamp in France in October as the likely target for his speedball.
“The Abbaye is the obvious route to take, but if the ground is like last year we’d probably avoid it and look elsewhere, but I don’t know where that might be,” he said.
“I’d have to speak to Sheikh Hamdan. At the moment Plan A would be Longchamp.
“It’s been an amazing day for Sheikh Hamdan – it’s great to be involved with that operation, they are so professional and they are being well rewarded.
“Jim’s brilliant. He is amazing, works very hard at what he does. We’re all very proud of a great team.”
Updated: August 22, 2020 10:06 AM