Battaash's latest Goodwood return will be poignant
It has become a familiar sight on the Friday of the Qatar Goodwood Festival to see Jim Crowley in the famous blue and white silks of the late Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum blitzing his rivals in the King George Qatar Stakes on board Battaash.
This year, Battaash is back for more, and his trainer Charlie Hills praised the seven-year-old sprinter as he seeks to win the race for a fifth consecutive year.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have had Battaash in this yard. He’s become a massive part of our lives over the last six years. The most important thing is to keep in one piece but we’re happy with him at this stage.”
Having suffered a minor setback over the winter, he finished 4th in the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot, a performance that left Hills delighted.
“Battaash has been good since his run at Ascot, and we’ve had no hiccoughs at all. I thought he ran a great race at Ascot, but they probably went a stride to fast which meant, on that track, it just found him out.”
“Goodwood, being a speed track, really suits him. He’s a straightforward horse to train these days and we know which races to target him for. He’s got a good routine and he enjoys his work which is the most important thing. He’s still very competitive when you put a horse alongside him and as long as he’s got that, then it’s pretty uncomplicated with him.”
Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum witnessed some great performances from Battaash at Goodwood, but this will be the first King George Qatar Stakes since his passing on what will prove to be an emotional day for connections.
“Battaash was very close to Sheikh Hamdan’s heart. Over those five years, he begun to watch him grow. The day he won the Nunthorpe Stakes was a very emotional day. He was a massive supporter of the yard and we had a lot of success and great days together. He is sadly missed but it’s great that his daughter Sheikha Hissa will take on the operation and I so hope Battaash can win at Goodwood for her.”