In the space of seven days, we have witnessed horse racing history three times; first, Enable, then Stradivarius and finally Battaash in the King George Qatar Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. What a week it’s been!
Remarkable achievements seem to be a lot like buses in the sport of kings. You wait years to see history made, then three records are broken in close proximity. With Enable and her unparalleled third King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes success, few have even attempted such a feat.
The wonder mare of wonder mares only had two rivals at Ascot. Not exactly major barriers to setting a new mark for excellence over a mile-and-a-half. Still, the King George still needed winning and that is precisely what Enable did.
Now for Stradivarius. As with his John Gosden stable companion, nobody had ever tried to win four renewals of the Goodwood Cup. The tides of fate looked against him at one stage when trapped in a pocket.
However, the star stayer angled out under Frankie Dettori and delivered his own slice of horse racing history. Stradivarius prevailed, not by the wide margin with which he sealed his Gold Cup hat-trick at Royal Ascot but still entered the record books.
Two records tumble in King George Qatar Stakes
Could Battaash follow on from his fellow six-year-olds that we have been blessed to see stick around for so long? Remember, Flat thoroughbreds carrying on with their racing is far less common than National Hunt types.
Not content with breaking one record for most successes in the King George Qatar Stakes, Battaash smashed another. His fourth consecutive victory in the Glorious Goodwood sprint is the only time a horse has gone under 56 seconds at the track.
The course record for a 5f race stood for 21 years. Rudi’s Pet bolted up in 56.01 seconds in 1999, but Battaash romped home in 55.62 – almost fourth-tenths of a second faster.
He was giving weight away all-round, but odds of 2/7 show the opposition wasn’t up to scratch. Nothing got within two lengths of Battaash and, in sprinting terms at least, that is a long way. To some extent, then, he competes with himself.
The fact that he can still break records in terms of time and repeat success aged six is evidence that Battaash may just be getting even better. There’s no doubt that his temperament has improved with age too, although the lack of live crowds helped his cause again here – just like when making it third time lucky in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Make the most of Battaash and co
We are most fortunate that these contemporaries have lit up several summers in succession. Taken together, there is no greater advert for keeping Flat racehorses in training than Enable, Stradivarius and Battaash. Enjoy them while they last, though, because all probably have fewer races in front of them than behind.
Battaash is a gelding, so may go on longer with defending his Nunthorpe Stakes crown at the Ebor Festival the next target for trainer Charlie Hills. Any odds against that happening has now dried up with bookmakers, and William Hill are best at 10/11 for a second York success.
Beyond that, Hills also suggested another crack at the Prix de l’Abbaye in Paris. All eyes shall be on Longchamp that weekend in early October but, with the greatest of respect to Battaash, he is only a side-dish.
The main event is the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe where Enable and Stradivarius could clash with many younger horses. Elsewhere at Glorious Goodwood, another Arc weekend winner in dual Prix de la Foret heroine One Master recorded a Group 3 win in the Oak Tree Stakes over her specialist distance of 7f.
It was the first leg of a big race double for jockey Tom Marquand and trainer William Haggas. Pablo Escobarr was the other half with victory in the 1m 4f Glorious Stakes. The day belonged to Battaash and his historic King George Qatar Stakes success, though.