We miss watching our favourite horses during the Covid-19 lockdown, so we’re finding out more about some of the equine stars we can’t wait to see once competition returns. This week, Hannah Lemieux profiles an ultra-fast Group One winner who “can have a temper”
Breeding: Dark Angel x Anna Law
Owner: Hamdan Al Maktoum
Jockey: Jim Crowley
Breeder: Ballyphilip Stud
Biggest wins: Group Two King George Stakes at Goodwood in 2017, 2018 and 2019; Group One Nunthorpe Stakes at York in 2019; Group One Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp in 2017; Group Two Temple Stakes at Haydock Park in 2018 & 2019.
Total earnings: £1,394,758
Trainer Charlie Hills
“As a two-year-old, Battaash had bags of energy and was quite boisterous. He’d shown at home that he was very fast, but it was more about settling him at the races because he just had so much built-up adrenaline.
“We then decided to geld him because we knew that he had the ability, but he was getting very distracted on the racecourse. He’s gained experience the more he’s raced and is much better behaved now. He’s a brilliant horse to have in the yard and my kids love going out to see him in his stable.
“He always winters in Norfolk and then comes back into training in March. We’ll prepare him as always and hope to start his season at Royal Ascot in June, if it goes ahead behind closed doors. Then we’ll take the same route with him as previous seasons – Goodwood followed by York in August.”
Jockey Jim Crowley
“I first rode Battaash in 2017 as a three-year-old when we won the first of three Group Two King George Stakes at Goodwood – a fast, flat course that he loves. I knew he had a bit of a reputation for being a handful. As a young racehorse, he just wanted to do everything at 100 miles per hour, but he’s matured with age and the racegoers have grown to love him.
“He’s not simple to ride and can have a temper – as a jockey I have to keep on his side and not upset him. Cantering down to the start before a race, I am just trying to keep him calm and settled. I have ridden him in 12 of his 20 races so I know him well. Equine behaviourist Gary Witheford, who works down at the start of races, knows Battaash well, too, and we have a routine that works to get him into the stalls as calmly as possible.
“Breaking the course record at York in the Group One Nunthorpe Stakes in 2019 was a highlight – it was a great feeling. He’s the quickest horse I’ve ever ridden or seen on a racecourse, and horses like him don’t come around often.”
Stable lad Bob Grace
“I have looked after Battaash since he arrived in the yard as a two-year-old. Viktoria Gatu rides him every day at home, but I lead him up at the races and look after him in the stable. He used to be difficult to lead up, but now I have got used to his ways and we stick to the same routine at the racecourse.
“He’s a diamond horse and I love him to bits. He doesn’t owe us anything and we’ve enjoyed great days with him. I’ve worked for the Hills family for over 30 years and he would be among the best I’ve ever looked after. He goes out in the first lot every morning with Viktoria and then I will take him for a pick of grass later on in the day – he enjoys getting out into the sunshine. If I take another horse out for grass and he can see, he’ll be there kicking at his door. I do spoil him with carrots, he could eat all day long if he was allowed.”
Ref Horse & Hound; 7 May 2020