Battaash is the fastest horse in training in the UK and Ireland and can confirm that status by winning the Nunthorpe Stakes at York on August 21.
The best ante-post betting price for the favourite is -149.99 with BetOnline. The last top elect to win the race was Sole Power in 2014, but Battaash triumphed last year and is looking to become the fourth dual winner this century.
The Nunthorpe is the only Group 1 British Flat race in which horses aged two can compete against older runners. The juveniles have a massive weight allowance, carrying 8st 1lb, while three-year-olds take 9st 9lbs and older horses race off 9st 11bs. There is also a 3lbs allowance for mares and fillies.
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Only one horse aged two has won the race this century, with 10 of the last 12 winners aged four and older. The winning-most age since 2000 is four with five wins. The age of winners since 1980 ranges from two to nine. Battaash is six, and only one horse over the last 20 years has won the race aged six.
The Nunthorpe Stakes is one of the most prestigious sprints of the season, and the betting market is often competitive. If Battaash wins and is returned lower than Evens, he will be the first odds-on winner since 2003. The victor of the five-furlong race has come from the top three in the betting six times since 2008.
Art Power is the current second-favourite at +700, but even that starting price is not in line with the typical quote of winners this century. The average price of the Nunthorpe Stakes winner since 2000 is over +2000, and there have been successful horses at +4000 and +10000.
In many other renewals, Art Power would have the form and ratings to win the Nunthorpe Stakes. The winner’s average rating since 2010 is 113 in a range from 104 to 123, with Battaaash producing the higher figure this time last year.
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Art Power’s rating is 115, but he is progressive and was an easy winner of a handicap over five furlongs at Royal Ascot. The horse has since won at Group 3 level at Naas over six furlongs, but he is going up two grades in the Nunthorpe. Battaash’s figure is 126, so Art Power has something to find.
The third-favourite in most 2020 Nunthorpe Stakes betting lists is Oxted, best priced at +800. The horse won the July Cup at Newmarket last month and has been given a mark of 120 by the handicapper. That level usually wins the Nunthorpre, but this is no normal year.
Battaash has won with a rating of 126 at both Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood. The horse got home by over two lengths at Ascot and broke the five-furlong course record at Goodwood. He is in a different class over the minimum distance and should prevail at York.
Battaash’s profile fits in with some of the recent form trends. All but one of the last 12 winners of the Nunthorpe Stakes had run at York before, won over five furlongs at least twice and run seven times or more over the distance. Seven winners had already won a race at York. Every winner had contested 11 or more Flat races in the past.
Battaash won the race in 2019 and so has winning experience at both track and distance. The Ascot and Goodwood wins earlier this season were both over five furlongs, while the horse has contested 21 races over the minimum distance. Hence, he ticks all the boxes for course trends and career form.
Battaash is trained by Charlie Hills and the regular jockey in Jim Crowley, which is the combination that won the Nunthorpe last season. If they win the race again, Hills would be the fourth trainer to claim the title more than once this century and Crowley would be the second multiple-winning jockey since 2000.
The owner, Hamdan Al Maktoum, won the race in 1990 with Dayjur. Mecca’s Angel in 2015 and 2016 is the most recent dual winner with the same trainer/jockey/owner combination. The previous occurrence was in 1981 and 1982. It is a rare feat, but the favourite can do the same.
Battaash has won 12 races from 22 starts and over £1.6 million in prize money over five seasons. The Nunthorpe takes less than a minute, and Battaaash can add to his earnings in that time by winning the York race for the second time in two years.