Nunthorpe: All you need to know as Battaash survives a scare to crown Crowley four-timer

By Nicholas Godfrey

So you know Battaash ran down Que Amoro inside the final furlong to complete back-to-back wins in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York on Friday. You’ve probably seen the race – but here’s some other stuff you might like to know.

What’s going on?

‘Horse of a lifetime’

Jim Crowley and Charlie HIlls were in complete agreement after Battaash’s gritty Nunthorpe victory. “He’s the horse of a lifetime,” said the jockey. “You get one in a career, a horse like this.”

The trainer was singing from the same hymnsheet. “He’s just the horse of a lifetime really,” said Hills. “To show us that enthusiasm throughout – it’s emotional now.”

Horse Racing Battaash York Nunthorpe Stakes
Battaash (Jim Crowley) wins the G1 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York. Photo: Qipco British Champions Series

Charlie Hills: ‘Relief is the word’

Battaash’s trainer admitted he was relieved to see the six-year-old wear down Que Amoro after being asked a serious question by the 22-1 outsider. “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,” he said.

Battaash is the ultimate professional

“If every horse I trained behaved like this today then it would be a very easy job,” said Charlie Hills. “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.”

Abbaye is Plan A – ground permitting

Battaash won the Prix de l’Abbaye at Chantilly with a tremendous four-length victory as a three-year-old on soft ground in 2017. Although he’s been beaten twice since – ignominiously in 2019 – now that the G1 sprint is back at Longchamp, the Arc day feature is probably on the agenda once more.

“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,” said Hills. “At the moment, Longchamp would be Plan A.”

Battaash is 4-6 for Longchamp with Coral, while Paddy Power went 6-4. But what about the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint? “That’s definitely going to be a decision from Sheikh Hamdan himself,” Hills added. “Plan A is definitely to go to France – then, who knows?

Jim-boree: Knavesmire four-timer for Crowley

Battaash’s victory completed an amazing four-timer in the first four races for Jim Crowley – all in the blue and white colours of his retainer, Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.

The former champion landed a pair of G2 wins on Enbihaar in the G2 Lonsdale Cup and the impressive Minzaal in the Gimcrack. Having also won the opening handicap on Alfaatik, he ended the day just two short of 2,000 winners in Britain on the Flat and over jumps.

Que Amoro likely to be added to Abbaye

With two wins via Mecca’s Angel and Mabs Cross touched off two years ago, few trainers can match Michael Dods’s record in the Nunthorpe. He is now talking about supplementing gallant runner-up Que Amoro for the Abbaye – a race he won with Mabs Cross after her York defeat.

Shall we talk about it?

Charlie Hills (Battaash’s trainer): “It’s not easy out there and the ground is loose and not ideal for him. He had to knuckle down and get the job done – 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. It’s not easy – it’s similar ground in which he’s been beaten on, but his experience pulled him through.
“I’m so proud of him today, he was brilliant and I probably think it was the best run of his career as conditions were against him – he had to knuckle down and work really hard.
“Plan A is definitely to go to France – then, who knows? The world we’re living in at the moment, it’s not easy to have too many set-in-stone plans.”

Jim Crowley (Battaash’s jockey): “He tried very hard. 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.”

Michael Dods (Que Amoro’s trainer): “She would have preferred faster ground, and so would he, but I didn’t think we’d get that close – so she’s run a blinder. To get that close to a horse like that is a hell of a performance. She’s seriously quick – when she ran here the other month, because the ground had gone a bit, we half-saved her to get home. I said to Paul to take no prisoners today, to just go – because that’s the only way to ride her. She burns horses off.
“She’s not in the Abbaye – we decided we wouldn’t put her in, and if she ran a big race here we’d supplement her. With what’s going on, we didn’t know what would happen, but that is probably where she’d go.”

Paul Mulrennan (Que Amoro’s jockey): “She ran a hell of a race and we’re really proud of her. I could hear Jim coming and he was roaring away so I thought I had him in a bit of trouble but he just got on top at the line – though Jim said pulling up ‘you had me in a bit of trouble there for a couple of strides.” She’s a classy filly – she’s typical of the sort Michael has had over the years because she’s getting stronger and better with age. We’ve learned how to ride but she’s got so much natural speed you can’t go fast enough on her.”

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