Dubai: Battash, who started his career with a bang four years ago and has since won 10 of his 20 races, makes a much-anticipated seasonal bow in next Tuesday’s Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes on the opening day of Royal Ascot.
Raced by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, the six-year-old son of Dark Angel has progressed into becoming one of the world’s outstanding sprinters and looks to uphold the lofty reputation and win a third Group 1 for his owner.
Battash enjoyed an outstanding season in 2019 winning three of his five starts including the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes, his second at the highest level following the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp the previous year.
His trainer Charlie Hills, who has always said that Battash puts in one scintillating performance a season, reported that the six-year-old is as “good as ever” ahead of the King’s Stand Stakes, a race that he has yet to win having been touched off by Godolphin’s star sprinter Blue Point last year in the race.
“We’ve been delighted with him through the spring and he’s not had any setbacks. He’s looked as good as ever in his work,” Hills told the Racing Post.
“It’s going to be a different Royal Ascot but it might suit Battaash if anything with less people, it should be a good experience for him.
“His Nunthorpe win was probably the performance of his career and it was great to do it there after people said York didn’t suit him.”
Battaash ended his 2019 season at Longchamp, finishing last of 14 on unfavourable very soft ground in the Prix de l’Abbaye, a race which he had won effortlessly in 2017.
“He came out of the race really well. The ground was awful and it didn’t favour the horses drawn out wide so we knew our fate after a furlong. It’s the first time he’s had a race like that,” added Hills.
“He’s otherwise been really consistent. There’s pressure but it’s fantastic training a horse like him for so long. He’s six and has always put in at least one scintillating performance a season.”
Battaash heads the market ahead of Sceptical, a former Godolphin horse who has emerged as Ireland’s top sprinter following his exciting three-length victory at Naas for trainer Denis Hogan on Monday.
“We were pleased to see possible Irish raider Sceptical emerge as a legitimate King’s Stand Stakes contender on the first day of the resumption of Irish racing,” said bookmaker Paddy Power’s Paul Binfield.
“That’s because Battaash is our best backed horse at Royal Ascot and has been well supported to go one better than last year from an opening 6-1 in October into an even-money favourite now.”
Sceptical was a bargain buy when sold for just £2,800 last August, and has won all four of his starts since.