1. Battaash (Timeform rating 136)
Battaash belied market weakness to make a winning debut at Bath in 2016 but let his temperament get the better of him when unplaced in the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot on his next start, playing up in the stalls beforehand. Connections made the decision to geld him after but he continued to make life difficult for his rider on his next three starts that season.
However, Battaash returned more mentally and physically mature for his three-year-old season, quickly developing into a top-class horse, winning his first three starts in 2017, notably the King George Stakes at Goodwood. Battaash started second favourite behind Lady Aurelia in the Nunthorpe at York, but ran below form, again letting his temperament get the better of him. However, he went on to confirm himself an outstanding sprinter with a ready success in the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp on his final start that season.
He proved inconsistent during 2018, though still impressed when winning the Temple and a second King George at Goodwood. However, he was at his very best during 2019, winning a second Temple and a third King George before righting a couple of wrongs when producing a scintillating display in the Nunthorpe, breaking Dayjur’s long-standing track record in the process. Battaash was seemingly amiss when well beaten in the Abbaye on his final outing of the campaign, but remains the most talented sprinter around. Charlie Hills
As 2019 draws to a close, we are tweeting our highlights of the year— Racing TV (@RacingTV) December 30, 2019
📅 August 23 @yorkracecourse - Battaash batters his rivals
💨 It was third time lucky for star sprinter Battaash in the Nunthorpe as he produced this scintillating performance#RacingTVHighlightsOfTheYear pic.twitter.com/w1glx3ToGL
2. Harry Angel (131)
Harry Angel was denied by the narrowest of margins by one with more experience on his debut at Ascot in 2016, but proved himself a smart juvenile when winning the Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury on just his second start. He was very strong in the betting – he started the 2/1 favourite – and showed why he was held in such regard by putting the race to bed in a matter of strides.
As a three-year-old Harry Angel developed into a top-class sprinter, finishing runner-up to Blue Point at Ascot on his return but showing much-improved form when winning the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock on his next start, producing an excellent timefigure and breaking the track record in the process. He finished second in the Commonwealth Cup – the race didn’t pan out ideally for him – and gained the Group 1 his record deserved when reversing the form with Caravaggio in the July Cup at Newmarket on his next start.
Harry Angel recorded his 131 Timeform rating when following up his July Cup success in even better style in the Sprint Cup at Haydock, where he proved in a different league to his rivals. Harry Angel’s final win came in the Duke of York Stakes on his reappearance in 2018, but he let his temperament got the better of him after, not behaving well at the stalls and ultimately running three below-par races later that season. Clive Cox
3. Mecca’s Angel (129)
Mecca’s Angel made an encouraging debut in 2013 and didn’t need to improve to land the odds at Haydock on her second start. She made a mockery of her opening mark when winning a nursery at Southwell by 12 lengths, taking to the fibresand like the proverbial duck to water, before running creditably in listed company.
The following year Mecca’s Angel won four of her five starts. She raised her form significantly when winning a handicap at Thirsk by four and a half lengths from a mark of 95, before completing a simple task in a minor event at Hamilton, proving herself a smart performer when winning by eight lengths. She was some way below her best upped to listed level in France next time, but resumed her progress back on home soil in a similar event at Doncaster. Her campaign in 2014 concluded with a first pattern success in a Group 3 at Newbury, where she typically travelled powerfully but also showed a good attitude when tackled in the final furlong.
Mecca’s Angel only ran three times in 2015, but she gained her first win at Group 1 level in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York where she also recorded her peak Timeform rating, putting up as good a performance as there had been in the race for many a year. She matched that form the following season when retaining her title with an authoritative success, getting close to Dayjur’s record (which has since been broken by Battaash). Michael Dods
4. Lethal Force (128)
Lethal Force was a useful juvenile, hitting the frame in both the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood, but he failed to get off the mark as a two-year-old, his first victory coming on his reappearance in a maiden at Bath.
Lethal Force was very consistent afterwards, showing smart form when again hitting the frame at Royal Ascot in the Jersey Stakes, and he produced a much-improved performance in first-time blinkers and under a front-running ride to win the Hungerford Stakes at 25/1.
Lethal Force had fully developed, both physically and mentally, by his four-year-old campaign and he proved himself a high-class sprinter when winning the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot and the July Cup at Newmarket, breaking the track record on the latter occasion. He became the first European sprinter to win back-to-back Group 1s since Starspangledbanner in 2010. Clive Cox
5. Persuasive (123)
Persuasive was sent off at 16/1 on debut at Kempton, but she produced a nice turn of foot to make a successful debut at the expense of a pair who had already shown a fair level of form.
She was strong in the betting for her handicap debut at Goodwood on her reappearance the following season and duly proved herself ahead of her mark, readily quickening through the pack despite being in a less-than-ideal position. Persuasive kept on progressing and, after scoring at Chelmsford, went on to win the Sandringham Handicap at Royal Ascot with something to spare, proving herself on softer ground than previously. She won the Group 3 Atalanta Stakes at Sandown on her next start in superb fashion, taking the step up in grade in her stride, and proved she could cut it at the highest level when runner-up to Alice Springs in the Matron Stakes.
Persuasive produced her best form the following season, deservedly gaining her first success in Group 1 company on her final start in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot. She produced the best performance of her career, landing a gamble in the process, quickening to lead over a furlong out and proving value for more than the one-length winning margin. John Gosden
6. Khaadem (122)
Khaadem showed plenty to work on when third to the impressive Calyx on debut at Newmarket and he confirmed that promise 10 weeks later when impressively opening his account over the same course and distance. He went on to show near-smart form when defying a penalty in good style at Doncaster on his final start that season, despite still not looking the finished article.
Khaadem completed a hat-trick on his seasonal reappearance in 2019 in a listed race at Newbury, again showing improved form and leaving the impression there was even more to come. However, he disappointed up in class in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, ridden further back than usual. He still left the impression that he had an even bigger performance in the locker, and that duly came in the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood, where he thrashed a fairly strong field, his performance rating up there with the very best in the race’s history.
That win marked Khaadem down as a Group 1 performer, and though he disappointed on his last two starts of the campaign he may have been inconvenienced by softer ground. Charlie Hills
7. Estidhkaar (121)
Estidhkaar was a smart juvenile in 2014, winning three of his five starts. He built on his debut promise when opening his account at Newbury before taking the step up in class in his stride when winning the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket. That form worked out well and Estidhkaar didn’t need to improve to land the odds in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster on his next start.
He was below form in the Dewhurst on his final start in 2014 but he put up a much-improved display on his first start as a three-year-old when beaten a neck by Muhaarar in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury. Despite that big effort, Estidhkaar proved a big disappointment in the 2000 Guineas two weeks later, clearly not 100 per cent on the day, seeming to lose his action in the Dip. Estidhkaar didn’t run for three months after, but was again below form on his final start that season when beating only one rival home in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville.
Estidhkaar clearly wasn’t the easiest to train and had his fair share of problems as he didn’t run again until October of the following season, when he finished runner-up in a minor event at Salisbury. He ran to a similar level later that month when resuming winning ways in a listed event at Newmarket, but that would prove to be the final start of an ultimately anti-climactic career which had promised so much. Richard Hannon
7= Markaz (121)
Markaz wasn’t a prolific winner – he only won three times in his career – but he was a very smart performer when putting it all together. He won a maiden at Ascot on his third start and developed into a useful juvenile, finishing runner-up in a Group 3 at Newmarket on his final start in 2014.
The following year Markaz generally held his form well, but his best effort came when winning the Criterion Stakes at Newmarket in June, taking on his elders for the first time and appreciating the return to seven furlongs.
It was in 2016 that Markaz achieved his peak Timeform rating when winning the Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle on his all-weather debut. It was probably the drop back to six furlongs rather than the switch to all-weather that was the catalyst for improvement given he had shown plenty of speed in his earlier runs. He was well positioned given the way the race unfolded, always handy, and he dug deep under pressure to prevail by a length. Unfortunately, Markaz was never able to reproduce that level of form, and he was retired to stud after finishing second in the Goldene Peitsche at Baden-Baden in first-time cheekpieces. He was originally awarded the race after finishing three-quarters of a length behind Donnerschlag, but that decision was later reversed. Owen Burrows
9. Sovereign Debt (120)
Sovereign Debt had an excellent career which spanned seven years (between 2011 and 2018), during which time he won multiple races. He was a smart three-year-old when trained by Michael Bell in 2012 but went on a near two-year losing run after before resuming winning ways at Wolverhampton on his third start for Dandy Nicholls.
Sovereign Debt went on to win a listed race back at Wolverhampton, a Group 3 at Tipperary, and another listed event at Leopardstown later that season. He enjoyed further success with Nicholls during the time he was with him, notably winning a valuable Group 2 in Doha on his final start for the yard, gaining a deserved success having made the frame in his previous 11 outings.
At eight years old Sovereign Debt moved to Ruth Carr and proved at least as good as ever when rattling off a hat-trick, namely in the valuable All-Weather Championships Mile at Lingfield, the Mile Stakes at Sandown and the Diomed Stakes at Epsom. He proved consistent in the remainder of his races during 2017, hitting the frame a further four times. Sovereign Debt’s last win came in a listed event at York in 2018 and he has now been retired. He was a credit to his connections. Ruth Carr