Jim Crowley relishing Royal Ascot opening-day rides on Battaash and Mustashry
Jim Crowley could be poised for a headline-hogging afternoon on the opening day of Royal Ascot on Tuesday, when his fancied rides include lightning-quick sprinter Battaash and Lockinge ace Mustashry.
The 2016 champion jockey hopes he can kick off his royal meeting with a bang on Mustashry in the Queen Anne Stakes, but the real fireworks could come just over an hour later on Battaash, who heads the market for the King's Stand Stakes at 2-1.
Owned by Crowley's boss Hamdan Al Maktoum, the Charlie Hills-trained Temple Stakes winner was second when well fancied for last year's King's Stand, but his partner believes he is in better shape this time round.
"I thought it was a fantastic run in the Temple Stakes," Crowley said. "I didn't ride him when he won it last year. He sort of scraped home that day, but I thought this year he was impressive.
"He was in good form and he looked great before the race – he won how people expect him to win now."
Battaash broke well 12 months ago, but it might have cost him as he was collared by Blue Point, who is also back for more.
They were among 17 runners confirmed on Wednesday for the Group 1 sprint with Mabs Cross, Sergei Prokofiev, US raider Imprimis, Equilateral and Soldier's Call still possibles.
Jim Crowley's Royal Ascot winners
2011 Prohibit King's Stand Stakes
2013 Berkshire Chesham Stakes
2015 Dutch Connection Jersey Stakes
2018 Eqtidaar Commonwealth Cup
2018 Bacchus Wokingham Stakes
Crowley added: "Battaash is a very forward-going horse, but if we can we'll just try to take it off him a bit at the start.
"To be fair, that was the plan last year when we had Lady Aurelia next to me and Kachy. Lady Aurelia missed the kick and he found himself in front. It wasn't through choice and I didn't set out to make the running on him.
"He was very quick from the stalls and I just felt he was there to be shot at.
"I think he's in better form this year going into it and hopefully he will do the business."
Mustashry could have already added to Crowley's five victories at the famous Flat fixture by the time Battaash runs and Sir Michael Stoute's contender is 5-1 for the Queen Anne.
Le Brivido, Laurens, Barney Roy and last year's winner Accidental Agent also remain in contention for the Royal Ascot opener.
"He surprised me in the manner he won the Lockinge, he didn't surprise me in winning," continued Crowley, buoyed by the form of Mustashry's Lockinge-prep in the Earl of Sefton.
"He's a really tough horse and Sir Michael had trained him for the Lockinge. He'd gone with a run under his belt and his race at Newmarket worked out particularly well; five have come out of it and won since.
"The mile at Ascot should suit him very well."
The 40-year-old has a difficult decision to make on riding either of promising pair Khaadem or Jash in the Commonwealth Cup, but day one could be crucial.
"Hopefully, Tuesday will be a good day and Battaash has got to be the pick of my rides, along with Mustashry," Crowley said.
The other Group 1 at Ascot on Tuesday is the St James's Palace Stakes, which Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Phoenix Of Spain and 2018's top juvenile Too Darn Hot are on course for, but Magna Grecia, the 2,000 Guineas hero, was not listed by connections at Wednesday's confirmation stage.
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