Battaash future in the balance after Goodwood eclipse

Connections of Battaash are set for discussions on the future of the brilliant sprinter, with retirement appearing a distinct possibility.

The seven-year-old could finish only seventh in his bid for a fifth successive King George Qatar Stakes at Goodwood on Friday, and Angus Gold, racing manager for Shadwell Estate, will now consult with Sheikha Hissa on Battaash’s future.

The Charlie Hills-trained gelding made a belated return to action this term when fourth at Royal Ascot, after suffering an injury during the winter, and connections could now call time on his career.

Gold said: “Jim (Crowley, jockey) said he really didn’t like the ground but that was not the reason he was beaten.

Battaash at Goodwood on Friday
Battaash at Goodwood on Friday (PA)

“The horse has done remarkably well to get back to the races and it took him a long time to come right after the fracture.

“Jim said ‘I had a ride for a few yards’ and there comes a time for all of us.

“I shall speak to the owner tonight, as the last thing we want to do is abuse him.

“After all the problems we’ve had, why would we go on now?

“She (Sheikha Hissa) spoke to me at Ascot and said she didn’t want to abuse this horse, so I suspect there will be an announcement forthcoming.”

A real flag-bearer for Hills, Battaash has also won the Nunthorpe, Prix de l’Abbaye and King’s Stand in a career which began with victory in a five-furlong novice event at Bath in May 2016.

His Lambourn trainer said: “He had a good trip, really. There was a lot of pace on this side of the track, but he came into the race travelling nice and strong. He probably didn’t really handle the ground as well as he could have done.

Charlie Hills celebrates after last year's King's Stand at Royal Ascot
Charlie Hills celebrates after last year’s King’s Stand at Royal Ascot (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“We were happy (coming into the race). He was doing everything we have done in the past few years, so there was no difference, really. I was just a little bit concerned about the going here today.

“We will see how he comes out of the race, speak to the management and Sheikha Hissa, and decide where to go forward.”

Crowley said: “The ground was probably slow enough for him. He owes us nothing and is not getting any younger.

“He travelled well early and showed plenty of enthusiasm. Even cantering down, I thought the going was slow enough.

“We’ll have a regroup and see what everybody wants to do. They don’t get quicker as they get older.”

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