Battaash in a dash for the Goodwood history books

Battaash, centre, on his way to King George Stakes history / Picture by Getty Images
Battaash, centre, on his way to King George Stakes history / Picture by Getty Images

As if one historic Goodwood hat-trick was not enough for one week, now we can celebrate another.

On the same turf where Stradivarius became the first horse in more than 200 years of the Goodwood Cup to win it three times in a row, 72 hours later Battaash completed the same feat in the King George Stakes - making him the first runner to win it three times in a row in more than a century of renewals.

Although there are few certs at Goodwood, both these wonderful occasions this week have ended with racegoers thinking the result was never really in doubt. Stradivarius may have won only by a neck, but in fact took the honours more comfortably than that suggests; while Battaash never really looked in trouble from early in the five-furlong dash.

Battaash, who began the race at odds of 1/4, recorded a time just 0.19s outside the course record of 56.01s set by Rudi's Pet in the corresponding race 20 years ago.

The winning margin over former Australian speedster Houtzen (16/1) was just three-quarters of a length, but it was another impressive performance from the Charlie Hills-trained gelding, who never looked in much danger and whose busy schedule through the second half of the season could ultimately take him to the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita, via York, the Curragh and Longchamp.

Hills said: "It is such a pleasure to be involved in a horse like this. To win three King George Stakes, I think it is the first time it has ever been done. I am quite emotional - he is a special horse. Jim just said he seemed to be idling there in front, which is good because he is taking his racing much better and there are a good few races now we can target towards the end of the year.

"Sheikh Hamdan is keen to go to York next. He has not won there before, but I still scratch my head because there is no reason why he would not handle a track like that. Then we will probably go to Ireland after that, all being well.

"There are only so many Group 1s over five furlongs, so he's got to go back to York. He was only beaten a couple of lengths last year. In the past though we've driven him up the night before, and I think this time we'll take him up on the morning of the race."

He added: "Bob [Grace, the groom] and Battaash are a marriage made in heaven, they get on so well. I am so pleased for Bob. He has been in this game a long time and looked after Battaash's sire Dark Angel. Then we had Battaash's dam as well in our yard. It is lovely teamwork and it is just a pleasure to have a wonderful horse like him."

Hills, who pointed out that Houtzen had some very good form in Australia, has big plans for Battaash this autumn.

Looking ahead he said: "After York there's the Flying Five, and then we'll go to France for the Abbaye [which Battaash won two years ago when it was run at Chantilly].He's very lightly raced really and is taking everything in his stride. He's much less stressed at the races.

"There are [at least] three more races for him this year and then hopefully the Breeders' Cup, although we will have to talk to Sheikh Hamdan about that. It's five furlongs again and it's a lot of prize money. We don't want to be too greedy, but last year he had very little racing."

Battaash becomes the first horse to win the £312,000 King George Qatar Stakes three times. Seven horses have won the contest twice.

Crowley said: "He's brilliant. Obviously he was not as visually impressive today as last year; he wasn't doing a lot in front and to be fair, I never used my stick on him today, just hands and heels. Maybe if I had given him a reminder he would have gone on and been more impressive, but I really didn't want him to go on and win by five or six lengths and have a harder race than he had to. We've got other races for him this year and I'd love it to be third time lucky in the [G1] Nunthorpe at York.

"He's a special horse. He's all speed and he probably only just gets five furlongs. If there were four and a half furlong races around he'd be unbelievable. Ascot just finds him out a little bit; it's almost like six furlongs there, but he loves it here. Hopefully it's third time lucky for the Nunthorpe.

"He was quite on it early on. We went very quick, as you would imagine. The horse who led me along couldn't take me any further. There just aren't many horses around quick enough to lead him. It was a great performance; fair play to Charlie [Hills] and all the team. He's settling down a bit - he was much better going out and going down to the start today, and he's growing up a lot.

"Goodwood is my local track and it's fantastic to win here. It's a pleasure to be associated with this horse."