Trainer Charlie Hills backs Battaash to make a big noise in the Group One King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot
- Tuesday’s royal meeting run will be the fourth in the career of Battaash
- The six-year-old has walked a temperament tightrope during his career
- He has finished runner-up to the now retired Blue Point for the last two years
Trainer Charlie Hills is hoping silence will be golden for Battaash when the sprinter tries to make it third time lucky in Tuesday’s Group One King’s Stand Stakes.
Lack of a crowd could work as a positive for a speedball who has walked a temperament tightrope during his career and who finished runner-up to the now retired Blue Point in the King’s Stand for the last two years.
In his conqueror’s absence, Battaash, who is owned by Sheik Hamdan Al Maktoum and ridden by former champion jockey Jim Crowley, is the odds-on favourite.
Trainer Charlie Hills is hoping silence will be golden for Battaash at Royal Ascot this week
Hills said: ‘I think there being no crowds will help Battaash, especially at a track which does test his stamina. You don’t want to be wasting energy before the race.
‘You do really feel it normally when you walk from the paddock to the racecourse, going through the two tunnels.
‘It is intimidating for some horses. Battaash has become so much more professional but there won’t be so much of a buzz. It is nice not to have Blue Point in the race. Take him out and Battaash would have won the King’s Stand Stakes twice.’
Battaash was cut down by winner Blue Point in the last 50 yards after making the running in 2018 race.
Last year, he got isolated from the field in the first two furlongs racing from his outside draw behind Aussie raider Houtzen. He still came with a powerful run but again Blue Point was too strong as he won by a length and a quarter.
Tuesday’s royal meeting run will be the fourth in the career of Battaash, who was 12th in the 2016 Windsor Castle Stakes. Unruly beforehand, he was gelded after that race.
In his 20-race career, Battaash has won 10 times including smashing a course record which had stood for almost 30 years with an arguably career-best win in the Nunthorpe Stakes last season on York’s flat track where the six-year-old had previously disappointed.
Hills added: ‘Battaash seems to do one big race like that a year. Sometimes with theses sprints it’s all about the draw and the pace of the race. So many things can go right and so many can go wrong.
‘He has won first time out every year of his career so that is not a concern. We can’t say he doesn’t handle Ascot but the track probably does not suit his assets. I have already lived so many emotions with him, I am used to it now.’
Hills, who also runs Equilateral in the King’s Stand, hopes the ground stays dry for 2019 Stewards’ Cup winner Khaadem in Saturday’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
Meanwhile, champion jockey Oisin Murphy, successful on Lyzbeth in the Cathedral Stakes at Goodwood, picked up a four-day ban from June 28 for careless riding when also winning on Bright Eyed Eagle on Sunday.