Yeomanstown Stud's Dark Angel (by Acclamation) was a leading sprint juvenile who took up stallion duties shortly after winning the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes. The Timeform 113-rated grey is a good-looking son of the high-class sprinter Acclamation (by Royal Applause), he has been hugely popular with breeders from day one, and he wasted little time in establishing himself as an important source of speed and precocity.
We can only guess at what he might have done had he stayed in training at three or four years of age, and if he would have been capable of a higher Timeform rating, but an increasing number of his offspring are matching and surpassing his figure, three have won at the highest level, and it is possible that a fourth will hit the Group 1 target tomorrow afternoon.
The big trio are Lethal Force (successful freshman sire), Mecca's Angel, and last month's July Cup hero Harry Angel, and the potential addition is the Charles Hills-trained three-year-old Battaash, one of the most exciting sprinters in Europe in recent years.
He looked a bright prospect when making a winning debut over the minimum trip at Bath in May of last year but was a disappointment when finishing down the field behind Ardad in the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot a month later.
He was gelded soon afterwards and although he ran quite well in his three subsequent starts – finishing third each time – he showed nothing of the brilliance that he has exhibited this summer.
First he was placed in a conditions race over six at Doncaster – the only time he has tried that distance – then in a Haydock nursery, and finally behind Mrs Danvers in the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes at Newmarket.
His three-year-old debut was in the Listed Randox Health Scurry Stakes at Sandown in mid-June and it was an eye-catching effort, beating Koropick by a length and a quarter. Then came his three and a quarter-length defeat of Mirza in the Group 3 Coral Charge, with Goldream another three lengths back in third.
That front-running performance suggested that he could be a Group 1 star in the making, but his two and a quarter-length victory in the Group 2 Qatar King George Stakes at Goodwood was breathtaking.
The ground was soft but he showed a powerful turn of foot to beat Profitable by two and a quarter lengths, with Marsha third, Take Cover fourth, and Washington DC fifth – and in a very quick time. Timeform's analysis placed him on a massive 135+, making it one of the best performances by a sprinter in recent years and putting him level with the brilliant Lady Aurelia.
Immediately thoughts turned to the mouthwatering prospect of these two outstanding three-year-olds meeting on the track, and that is due to happen at York tomorrow afternoon in what could be a Group 1 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes for the ages.
Battaash was bred in Ireland by Ballyphilip Stud and he is a 200,000gns graduate of Book 2 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale in Newmarket. He is the first foal out of an unplaced mare called Anna Law (by Lawman), and although there will obviously be no stallion career for him, there is likely to be one for his notably talented 'cousin'.
That horse is the William Haggas-trained four-year-old Tasleet (by Showcasing), a Timeform 125-rated winner of the Group 2 Duke of York Stakes and who was runner-up to The Tin Man in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.
He is also owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum, and his dam, Bird Key (by Cadeaux Genereux), is a half-sister to Anna Law. These two mares have four blacktype siblings, best of whom is Group 2 Champagne Stakes winner and Group 1 July Cup third Etlaala (by Selkirk), and they are out of Portelet (by Night Shift), a four-time winning half-sister to stakes-placed sprinter Rozel (by Wolfhound).
Noirmant (by Dominion), the third dam of Battaash and Tasleet, was unraced, her half-sister Ghariba (by Final Straw) won the Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes and finished fourth in the Group 1 1000 Guineas and then went on to become the ancestor of several talented horses, including Group 1-placed juvenile mile Group 3 scorer Fantastic View (by Distant View) and the Group 1-placed, pattern-winning sprinter High Standing (by High Yield).
All of this might sound as though it is a family exclusively associated with talent at a mile and under, but Ghariba and Noirmant are out of Listed Montrose Handicap third Krakow (by Malinowski) and so are half-sisters to Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak and Group 2 Yorkshire Cup hero Braashee (by Sadler's Wells).
Their siblings also include Adam Smith (by Sadler's Wells), a multiple Grade 3 winner at around a mile in the USA.
It remains to be seen just how good Battaash really is, and despite his huge Timeform rating he has created the impression that he could still be improving. Although many would love the chance to breed to a horse of such immense talent, it has been said that there was good reason to castrate him and that, as a colt, he would likely not have shown his true worth.
This means that we could be treated to the sight of this exciting sprinter in action for several years, and if he truly is a 130+ talent rather than a 'one-hit wonder', and if can hold that sort of form over a long period of time, then he has the potential to become one of the most celebrated horses on the international scene, and a yardmark against which to judge the current and future generations.