Dubai: Battaash underlined his reputation as the fastest horse on the planet when unleashing a blistering turn of foot to shatter the five-furlong course record and capture the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes, the feature race on the third day of York’s four-day Ebor Festival.
Already the top-rated older horse in Europe ahead of Blue Point, Crystal Ocean, Enable and Stradivarius, the five-year-old son of Dark Angel rocketed home three-and-three-quarter lengths clear of Soldier’s Call, with So Perfect a length behind in third.
Battaash, who is owned by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, bettered the 29-year-old course record set by specialist sprinter Dayjur, who also ran Shaikh Hamdan’s famous blue-and-white colours.
With former two-time British champion jockey Jim Crowley in the irons, the winner crossed the line in a time of 55.19 seconds (old record 56.16) to also emphatically end his York hoodoo. Battaash finished fourth in the previous two runnings of the Nunthorpe despite producing scorching performances at famous racecourses such as Ascot, Goodwood, Haydock in England and Longchamp in France.
“That’s the most enjoyable winner I’ve ridden in my life,” said Crowley. “I’m very lucky to be riding this horse, it’s an absolute pleasure.”
Asked for his effort halfway through the 1,000 metre contest, Battaash changed gears like a Formula 1 car to pull clear of his rivals and leave the crowd in awe of what they had just witnessed.
Irish raider Ten Sovereigns, the less-than-popular favourite, could finish only sixth after a tardy start.
Battaash was made the 4-5 ante post favourite to win the Group 1 Prix de l’Abbaye, the feature sprint on Arc date at Longchamp on October 6.
Earlier in the afternoon, superstar stayed Stradivarius landed the Lonsdale Cup beating Dee Ex Bee, owned by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council.
The Al Basti Equiworld Gimcrack Stakes (G2), a high-quality two-year-old contest which has been won by the likes of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid’s Muhaarar (2014) and Godolphin’s Blue Point (2016), went to the favourite Threat and jockey Oisin Murphy.
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