Brilliant sprinter Battaash has been retired following his defeat in the King George Qatar Stakes at Goodwood on Friday.
The Charlie Hills-trained seven-year-old was attempting to win the Group Two feature for the fifth successive year, but after travelling well through the early stages he had to settle for seventh place behind the French filly Suesa.
Connections immediately raised the possibility of retirement for the four-time Group One winner, and that has now been confirmed.
In a statement to the PA news agency on Saturday, racing manager Angus Gold said on behalf of Shadwell Estate Company Ltd: “Following telephone conversations with HH Sheikha Hissa Bint Hamdan Al Maktoum last night and this morning it has been confirmed that Battaash will retire from racing with immediate effect.
“Sheikha Hissa confirmed to me how much Battaash had meant to Sheikh Hamdan and indeed to all her family and she does not want to abuse him in any way – while the ground may have been a contributory factor to his defeat yesterday it appeared that some of his old spark was missing, so ultimately the decision to retire him was an easy one.”
Battaash won the Nunthorpe at York in 2019 and 2020, the Prix de l’Abbaye in 2017 and last year’s King’s Stand at Royal Ascot in a career which began with victory in a five-furlong novice event at Bath in May 2016.
His return to action this season was delayed by an injury setback, finishing fourth in the King’s Stand.
Gold went on: “Battaash has been a flag-bearer for Shadwell for the last six years and has run in 19 consecutive Group races, winning 11 of them, including four Group Ones and was still at his prime as a six-year-old last year winning all three of his starts.
“Despite having had soundness issues most of his life, from poor X-rays of his knees as a three-year-old right through to having to repair a tiny fracture in his right-fore fetlock joint in December last year, along with two different surgeries for wind abnormalities, he has raced at the top level for the last five seasons.
“As a result of overcoming all these adversities he has obviously become a huge favourite for everyone connected with Shadwell and on behalf of Sheikha Hissa and her family I would like to pay tribute to all those who have contributed to his success – obviously to Charles Hills and all his team who looked after the horse so brilliantly, particularly Bob Grace and Bluey Cannon who took over the mantle of looking after the horse this year when Bob retired.
“To all those who rode the horse over the years, and in particular Dane O’Neill who has ridden him in so much of his work for the last three or four years. To all the vets who have spent so much of their time making sure that the horse is in top shape and finally to Dennis O’Brien and all his team at Shadwell Stud where the horse has spent his winters for the last four years – without all their dedication and hard work he would never have achieved the heights he has and we are very grateful to everybody who has contributed to his success.
“It has been an enormous thrill to have a horse as explosive as Battaash and together with other recent stars of the turf like Stradivarius and Enable, he has lit up the last few years and given us some wonderful days on the track, and we all feel very honoured to have been associated with him.
“Battaash will live out his days in well earned retirement at Shadwell Stud.”
Paying his tribute, Hills told Racing TV: “We’re greatly proud to have been associated with a horse like him.
“We’ve had some wonderful times together, it’s been a really great journey. And what’s great is he’s there today fit and sound and (after) all those great races he’s won it’s just nice to have a horse there that can go and enjoy the rest of his life.
“He’s such a softy at home, anyone can go an cuddle him. He’s so nice to be around, it’s been an absolute privilege to train him.
“It’s sad, but good things have to come to an end.”