Battaash, why didn’t he run in the ‘Nunthorpe’ and indeed why isn’t he in training? There is nothing wrong with the big-strapping seven-year-old and so the questions have to be asked; can you really retire a gelding which loved racing and was undeniably the best and most imperious sprinter around?
Thoroughbreds are born with a prime purpose to race, if they are difficult, like Battaash apparently was as a yearling, they are often gelded which ensures even more focus on racing; obviously I’ve been close to Charles Hills’ yard for several decades, have a direct insight into his Berkshire-based ‘Faringdon’ and know without fear of contradiction this particular magnificent equine product is (or was!) awesome on gallops and extremely tractable.
My early questioning can be answered; because he failed in two races this season the ‘managers’ of Shadwell decided to make representation and advised retirement, but who is to blame?
I’ve learned, from experience, there are ‘too many chiefs and not enough Indians’ in ultimate decision making, especially in horse-racing, and a singular problem is at the heart of this particular scenario. Let me explain.
According to my main source (no names mentioned to protect confidentiality and be respectful) Battaash came back late from his annual holiday (for want of a better expression!) and it was surprising when Royal Ascot was mooted as plan A for 2021 by Hills and co because he was at least three weeks behind his normal schedule and fitness.
On June 15th Battaash lined up for the all-aged group one sprint at Royal Ascot; unbeknown to the general public Hills had attempted to put a quart into a pint pot but his legion of followers throughout the world made him a hot favourite; although ‘ring-rusty’ and not in great shape he ran well in the circumstances, finishing fourth beaten just over two lengths. I knew about his condition!
Next stop was Glorious Goodwood, a drop in class for a grade two race but ground was very soft and Battaash, hot favourite, thrashed around in the quicksand and ‘died on his sword’, losing by SEVEN LENGTHS. After analysing his worst career effort I was angered and upset to think such a wonderful reputation lay in tatters through no fault of his own.
Battaash was the pride and joy of Hamdan Al Maktoum, unfortunately he died a few months ago; he would never have allowed the aforementioned and Barry Hills would doubtless confirm his passion and understanding.
Many years ago my old warrior, Elton Ledger was retired, having won ten races but from an adjacent field he would appear at the gate close to stables and Norma Macauley’s gallops; ‘I want to race’ he said and was put back into training.
‘Elton’ won six more races before he got fed up with fibresand being kicked up in his face and plastering his obligatory blinkers. Other trainers would be able to relate similar tales because competitiveness is born in these wonderful warriors.
Battaash should be in training, being prepared for the ‘Abbaye’ at Longchamp two months from now instead of rotting away (mentally!) in a field. Is defeat such a travesty?
Three seconds since our 300/1 ‘trixie’ last Thursday but I’ll put that right, by climbing over the gate of success!
Selections, Bangor, 1.40 She’s a Novelty (e.w); Musselburgh, 1.50 Rosie’s Return (nap); Newbury, 4.40 Sense Of Duty.
Jeffrey Ross, horse-racing correspondent for WMN since 1983 when winning the most prestigious racing journalist award, Sporting Life Naps Table, before winning it a record number of six times collectively in the Racing Post, the current ‘trade’ paper, including 2019