Prix de l’Abbaye preview: Battaash impossible to oppose at LongchampPublished on: October 5, 2019Author: Jamie Clark
Battaash is all the rage to regain the Group 1 French sprint crown in the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp following the Arc on Sunday (16:30).
Charlie Hills’ sprinting star has finally tasted success again at the highest level – having won this two years ago – with victory in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York.
In two previous visits to the Knavesmire, Battaash failed to fire but third time was the charm as he scorched the Yorkshire turf and bolted up by 3 3/4 lengths.
When regular jockey Jim Crowley hit the turbo, the son of Dark Angel flew clear and silenced his doubters.
Battaash came into the Nunthorpe on the back of a workmanlike display when landing the King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood for a third year in a row.
The key, according to connections, was not giving the horse a hard race at the Sussex venue. Their plan paid off with Battaash bettering fourth place finishes in his previous trips to York.
As he won the Prix de l’Abbaye when it was run at Chantilly on soft ground, the forecast going holds no fears for him.
That and his Royal Ascot runs behind the now retired Godolphin sprinter Blue Point in consecutive King’s Stand Stakes renewals set a clear standard here.
It makes this Hamdam Al Maktoum owned gelding the one to beat. On all known form, an on-song Battaash just can’t be opposed and that explains short odds of 4/5 with Unibet here.
More needed from Prix de l’Abbaye heroine Mabs Cross
Yorkshire trainer Michael Dods saddled mare Mabs Cross to the spoils 12 months ago when gaining compensation for an agonising defeat in the Nunthorpe.
If this five-year-old daughter of Dutch Art is to successfully defend her Prix de l’Abbaye crown, however, then she must step up on recent efforts.
When taking this event last year, Mabs Cross came under a perfectly timed ride from Gerald Mosse and led close home, just touching off the re-opposing Gold Vibe by a head.
Battaash was three-quarters of a length behind here in fourth but has since reversed the form. Mabs Cross simply isn’t getting going in her races quickly enough this season.
Although prevailing by a neck from Equilateral in a competitive renewal of the Group 3 Palace House at Newmarket on reappearance, she hasn’t performed as well in her main targets.
Mabs Cross was third in the King’s Stand in 2018, but only fourth this year. She also filled that spot in the Nunthorpe when making headway too late.
It was a similar story in the Flying Five Stakes at The Curragh last time out as Mabs Cross kept on close home to be a never nearer 3 1/4 lengths sixth to Fairyland.
She is shaping as though needing further, but the soft surface – which is an unknown with her – means the minimum trip might take some getting here.
As Battaash was well on top in both the King’s Stand and Nunthorpe, Mabs Cross is hard to fancy for a win but still has place prospects at 10/1 with Coral in the Prix de l’Abbaye if acting on the ground and putting her best foot forward.
Invincible Army looks overpriced
While Battaash must underperform in a big way, one British raider who looks overpriced is Invincible Army for James Tate.
The four-year-old son of Invincible Spirit probably wants somewhere between 5f and 6f, but has won a group race on soft before.
Invincible Army took the Group 3 Pavilion Stakes from subsequent Commonwealth Cup hero Eqtidaar at Ascot on reappearance last season.
He won his first two starts this term with a Listed victory at Doncaster and an equally decisive result when up in grade at York.
While Invincible Army beat the same rival on both occasions, he has also posted improved form with each outing in Group 1 company.
Although only seventh behind Battaash and Mabs Cross in the King’s Stand, he was later a three-length fifth in the Haydock Sprint Cup.
As Invincible Army was just 1 1/2 lengths behind the re-opposing Fairyland in the Flying Fifth last time out, he is clearly getting better in top class races. He also plundered a Group 3 on the all-weather at Newcastle.
While an extended 6f in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville stretched Invincible Army’s stamina to breaking point, this 5f that could take some getting may bizarrely suit him.
In a Prix de l’Abbaye renewal where plenty will fancy their chances of making the frame, Invincible Army is 25/1 with Ladbrokes for this valuable sprint.