New kid on the block Battaash comes of age with rip-roaring win
Lady Aurelia may be about to meet her match on the racecourse after Battaash confirmed himself the rising star of the sprint ranks with a scintillating performance.
He sealed a date with the brilliant US-trained winner of the King's Stand Stakes in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York later this month with a convincing dismissal of the two horses who filled second and third behind the filly at Ascot.
And jockey Jim Crowley said: "Bring it on," as Battaash was cut to a top-priced 5-2 by William Hill for the Group 1 sprint, for which Lady Aurelia is the 7-4 favourite.
Battaash broke the track record when opening his Group-race account at Sandown on Eclipse Stakes day, but trainer Charlie Hills was not sure he could stage a repeat success in much slower conditions in Goodwood's Group 2 dash.
Yet he was unruffled by the ground and the early fractions set by Take Cover and, once allowed his head with a furlong to run, was far too strong for his opponents.
Crowley said: "He jumped very well from the stalls to sit off a very, very fast horse and seasoned campaigner.
"In the first few furlongs there are not many quicker than him and I was just taking a toe off him. In the end I got dragged into the race.
"He took me there very easily and at the two-pole I couldn't believe how well I was going. I just hoped on that ground he'd keep going and he did."
Summing up the performance, he added: "I never felt like I was in trouble at any stage. He has so much natural speed. I don't think I've ridden a better sprinter. It's like riding a motorbike up the gallops. There's still plenty left in the tank.
"It was a very good performance. Until they go and do it at Group 1 level you don't want to bump them up too much but he can only do what he is doing so far and he is winning."
Lady Aurelia had three lengths to spare over Profitable while Battaash beat the same horse by two and a quarter lengths.
'He skipped through it'
"I think five furlongs at York should really suit him," said Hills. "We have the American horse to contend with there as well. That should make it a good race.
"These were completely different conditions to Sandown, where he broke the track record. We were a little unsure whether he would handle the ground but he has such class. He's not a very big horse – he's 15.1hh – but he seemed to skip through it."
Profitable won last year's Group 1 King's Stand Stakes when the ground rode soft and was backed down to 9-4 but could not land a telling blow.
Trainer Clive Cox: “The ground is very testing but we were beaten by a better horse on the day. It’s difficult to change gear on that ground and we just didn’t find as much as the winner. We’ll see how he comes back but we think he ran his race.”
Last year's Prix de l'Abbaye winner Marsha ran right up to her Ascot run with Profitable to finish third.
Trainer Sir Mark Prescott said: “If she’s all right it will be the Nunthorpe. She’s going to go to the sales in the autumn, which is a sadness for us, so the one thousand members better enjoy her while they’ve got her.”
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