Battaash is box-office.
Undoubtedly the greatest five-furlong sprinter Europe has seen in the past decade, he finally put his York hoodoo to bed last season crossing the line in a course record time with Jim Crowley finger to lips in the saddle, silencing the doubters.
Nunthorpe Stakes tips
Battaash’s previous inconsistency and hot-headedness had been a justifiable reason to attempt to oppose him earlier in his career, but for the past two seasons, barring an inexplicable misfire in the Abbaye, he has looked much the reformed character, with gaining two more King George Vs alongside his Nunthorpe, again doing so this season in course record time, as well as adding the King’s Stand, the only major European five-furlong event to previously elude him, to his CV.
All own known form, he’s head and shoulders above his opposition and barring something utterly drastic occurring, Battaash’s only realistic rivals look to come in the shape of the two three-year-olds, Art Power and A’Ali, who both developed into proven Group quality sprinters this season.
A’Ali had a busy campaign as a two-year-old, forward enough to win the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot, before adding the Prix Robert Papin and Flying Childers to make it a trio of Group 2 victories as a juvenile. After a fruitless foray over six furlongs on his seasonal reappearance, he’s added another two Group races to his tally since reverting to the minimum trip, taking the Coral Charge and Sapphire Stakes.
He’ll likely be delivered late, but connections would surely be hopeful he could make the first three.
Similar comments apply to the rapidly progressive Art Power, who bolted up over course & distance on his second start as a two-year-old and has looked well out of the top drawer on all three of his starts this season, making a mockery of his initial mark of 97 when winning the Palace of Holyroodhouse at Royal Ascot, before taking the step up to Group class with ease with a troublefree victory in the Lacken Stakes over six furlongs at the Curragh.
He’s equally adept over five and can produce a potent turn of foot for a horse running over such short distances.
Like A’Ali, he may have his work cut out here with one of the best sprinters this country has ever seen in opposition, but is sure to pick up more big prizes in his career even if a battle with the Batmobile is a step too far at this stage.
The disparity in price between the three market leaders and their opposition is entirely fair, but if I was to recommend a dart at a bigger price, it would be Moss Gill, winner of the Listed City Walls Stakes here last month.
Que Amoro, third in that event, is also in opposition, as is former Gimcrack winner Emaraaty Ana, last season’s Coral Charge winner Kurious, and the likeable veteran speedball Ornate, who now mixes his runs between handicaps and Group races, but put his best effort of the season when third to Battaash in the King George V last time.