Battaash, officially the best five-furlong horse in the world, overcame a slow start and a 5lb penalty under Dane O’Neill to beat the late thrusting Washington DC in the Armstrong Aggregates Temple Stakes at Haydock.
Last season the gelding, trained by Charlie Hills, won the Prix de L’Abbaye and suffered his only defeat in the Nunthorpe when he boiled over at the start, but he began this season as he finished last with a win – albeit a narrow one. He will now head for the King’s Stand Stakes.
“That was impressive,” said O’Neill. “The race happened away from us and I had to go for him sooner than I wanted. Kachy was getting a nice easy lead over on the far side. He was entitled to get a bit tired but his season doesn’t start and end today.”
Earlier, there was a terrific finish to the six furlong Armstrong Aggregates Sandy Lane Stakes, essentially a trial for the Commonwealth Cup, in which Richard Fahey’s Sans of Mali, last year’s Gimcrack winner, beat James Tate’s Invincible Army by a nose. The runner-up was catching the determined Sands of Mali all the way to the line where it was on the nod.
Fahey was delighted. “I’d have settled for a dead-heat after the race,” he explained. “He gets into his stride very quickly and I’d love to take a lead on him. He got a bit lonely out in front. I’ve been sweet on him all year for the Commonwealth Cup. Ascot will suit him well because he grinds it out. I’d love something to go a million (mph) there, sit on its girth and get a nice tow into the race.”
A furlong out in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at The Curragh it looked like, not for the first time, it would be an Aidan O’Brien 1-2-3 but the 25-1 shot Romanised, who was last at half way and still eight lengths off US Navy Flag with three to run, flew down the outside to beat them by two-and-a-half lengths going away under Shane Foley.
It was a first Classic for Curragh trainer Ken Condon and his first winner since last July. “It hasn’t sunk in,” he said. “We always thought a lot of him. He was 25-1, 40-1 overnight, but we thought he’d run well, he worked the best he has done all spring on Tuesday and Shane was very cool on him. It’s just magic.
“He was quite highly-tried last year – the talent was there but the strength probably wasn’t. He’s in St James’s Palace and Commonwealth Cup at Ascot. There’s no doubt now he’ll stay at a mile though.”
The Mark Johnston-trained favourite Elarqam was off the bridle at half-way and finished a one-paced sixth.