Sprinting star Battaash could retire after the Charlie Hills-trained gelding falls short in bid for a fifth King George Qatar Stakes victory at Goodwood after placing seventh
- Battaash, who had a knee operation over the winter, faded tamely at Goodwood
- Battaash finished seventh in his attempt to win King George Qatar Stakes again
- It followed his fourth place in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot last month
Retirement appeared to be beckoning for sprinting star Battaash after the Charlie Hills-trained gelding faded tamely into seventh place on his attempt to win the King George Qatar Stakes at Glorious Goodwood for the fifth time.
The defeat behind impressive French-trained filly Suesa followed his fourth place in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot last month.
It left the seven-year-old’s team pondering whether the march of time and the knee operation he had over the winter has taken its toll on Battaash.
Battaash (centre – pictured at York Racecourse in 2020) finished seventh behind Suesa in the King George Qatar Stakes on Friday
That fracture required a pin being inserted and while the ground at Goodwood was softer than ideal for Battaash, it was not offered as an excuse by jockey Jim Crowley.
The rider said: ‘He owes us nothing and he is not getting any younger. He travelled well and showed plenty of enthusiasm early on. The fire is still burning but they don’t get quicker as they get older.’
Battaash has become a staple of the European sprinting division. A high tensile temperament in his younger days only added to his intrigue and occasionally cost him.
He won his first King George Stakes as a three-year-old in 2017 and finished that season with victory in the Group One Prix de L’Abbaye.
Highs since have included two victories in the Group One Nunthorpe Stakes at York and success in the 2020 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Battaash was a favourite of the late Sheik Hamdan Al Maktoum and his Shadwell Stud racing manager Angus Gold was due to discuss Battaash’s future with the Sheik’s daughter, Sheikha Hissa, on Friday night. Gold said: ‘I think he has done remarkably to get back to the races. We had to put a pin in that joint and it took him a long time to come right. The last thing we want to do is abuse him.’
If Battaash does exit the stage, Suesa is a potential new sprinting star.
The Francois Rohaut-trained filly, who was beaten in heavy ground at Royal Ascot, pulled three lengths clear of Dragon Symbol under William Buick.
A day of contrasting fortune for Shadwell saw their William Haggas-trained Baaeed extend his unbeaten career to four with an effortless six-and-a-half length victory over El Drama in the Group Three Bonham Thoroughbred Stakes in the hands of Crowley.
Haggas will now set his sights on a Group One race for Baaeed — possibly next month’s Prix Jacques Le Marois, where he could meet Palace Pier.