BLINK and you might miss today’s Group Two King George Qatar Stakes at Goodwood (3.35pm), which is a downhill dash over one of the fastest five furlongs on the globe.

BATTAASH is the reigning champion and attempts to become the first horse since the flying Lochsong in 1994 to land back-to-back victories in this prestigious sprint.

The major concern surrounds his temperament as he is a complex individual who can boil over in the preliminaries.

His trainer Charlie Hills insists he has matured mentally from three to four and that his profuse sweating is simply part of his character.

In fact, Hills has stressed that he’d be worried if the gelding suddenly became relaxed.

Rusty when making a winning seasonal debut in the Temple Stakes at Haydock, Battaash improved markedly on that performance at the Royal meeting.

Positively ridden to track the American express that is Lady Aurelia, Battaash managed to beat off Wesley Ward’s mare, but paid for those record-breaking early fractions late on.

The pair arguably went too hard too soon and they were worn down in thelast furlong by Blue Point.

Sure, the trailblazers will make scorch marks on the turf again, but there is no Lady Aurelia or Blue Point in this field and it is two years since Battaash has been rolled over outside Group One company.

Furthermore, he only has to shoulder a 3lb penalty this time, whereas he has been beating most of these with the 5lb extra.

Therefore, unless his temperament lets him down as it did in the Nunthorpe at York last year, he’ll take plenty of catching here.

Kachy has enjoyed a great season, but even his awesome early pace was not enough to hang on to the coattails of Battaash at Ascot.

He looks sure to be ridden aggressively again which can only help Battaash by giving him a lead for as long as possible.

Aidan O’Brien, who entered five originally, relies on Sioux Nation who showed signs of returning to form when fifth behind stablemate US Navy Flag in the July Cup at Newmarket.

He looks worth a try at this trip but is very much in at the deep end here.

Battaash is not the only previous winner in this 11-strong line-up as both Take Cover (2016) and MUTHMIR (2015) are back for more.

Muthmir has twice had a rear view of Battaash since finishing fourth behind Lady Aurelia in last year’s King’s Stand, but William Haggas’ veteran still looked a useful sprinter last time.

He was drawn away from the action when an unlucky third to Mr Lupton at York and rates the main danger in my book.

The strong pace here should suit his style of running and I expect him to finish with a rattle.

The 11-year-old Take Cover has often fallen short when he has dipped his toes into the deepest waters.

He is another who will add plenty of pace to the race, which can only help set things up for the favourite. Battaash was only the second three-year- old in 15 years to topple his elders in this race 12 months ago and the younger brigade are strongly represented again.

HAVANA GREY, who comes here after beating the older horses in Ireland recently, may be the pick of their five-strong squad.

He was an impressive winner at this meeting in 2017 and is better than he has shown to date.

Heartache came out on top by half-a-length when she clashed with Havana Grey in last year’s Flying Childers Stakes at Doncaster.

She is weighted to confirm the form and dropping back to five furlongs will definitely suit.

However, Clive Cox’s Queen Mary winner has twice been beaten over six furlongs this season and still has to convince she has trained on from two to three.

Indeed, no three-year-old filly has won since Agnetha in 2002, which would also be a concern for fans of Main Desire.

BILL ESDAILE’S KING GEORGE STAKES 1-2-3

1 BATTAASH

2 MUTHMIR

3 HAVANA GREY



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