Battaash camp confident sprinter can rediscover form in Abbaye
Battaash, whose showdown with Lady Aurelia in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York last month did not live up to expectations, will have a major shout in Sunday's Qatar Prix de l'Abbaye if rediscovering the form that made him such an impressive winner of Goodwood's King George Stakes, connections insisted on Tuesday.
Described by trainer Charlie Hills as being like a bull in a china shop in his early career, the gelding won Listed and Group 3 heats at Sandown before a sensational performance at Glorious Goodwood.
However, he got worked up before the Nunthorpe and finished only fourth as Lady Aurelia and Marsha fought out the finish. Marsha, who prevailed by a nose, is set to reoppose Battaash at Chantilly.
"That was his fourth run in just over two months and I think he can put that behind him," Hills said in his Racing Post Weekender column.
"I've been really pleased with him since – he's been freshened up and it's done him the world of good.
"The stables at Chantilly are right on the track so we can saddle him up there, and there's no reason why he won't be right there if he brings the form that helped him win the King George Stakes at Goodwood to the table.
"Marsha beat him at York last time, but the time before he beat her at Goodwood. That was on soft ground and it's probably going to be soft on Sunday, so he's proven in the conditions and I think he's got a big chance."
Battaash runs in the colours of Hamdan Al Maktoum, whose retained rider Jim Crowley – last year's champion jockey – could be in store for a fine weekend.
He is due to ride Unfortunately in the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes and leading Betfred Cambridgeshire contender Thundering Blue at Newmarket on Saturday, before heading to Chantilly for Battaash and live Arc contender Ulysses.
"I'm looking forward to Ulysses and Battaash – I've got a great book of rides," he said.
"Hopefully Battaash won't boil over like he did at York and, if he can come back to his Goodwood run, he'll be bang there. It all depends on which Battaash turns up."
Don't miss Charlie Hills's column every Wednesday during the Flat season in the Racing Post Weekender