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Thursday, 18 October, 2018

Round two: Appleby eager to beat Battaash again with Ascot hero Blue Point

Blue Point (William Buick) beats Battaash (Jim Crowley) in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot
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Battaash is regarded by many as the fastest racehorse in the world after his Goodwood blitz but Charlie Appleby is relishing the opportunity to take him on in York's Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes with Blue Point.

When the pair met over five furlongs in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot it was Blue Point who emerged on top, winning comprehensively by a length and three-quarters.

Watch: Blue Point down Battaash in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot

However, Battaash, who thrashed his rivals in the King George Stakes by four lengths on Friday, is odds-on for the Nunthorpe almost across the board, whereas Blue Point can be backed at 7-1 for the August 24 showpiece, having finished down the field since Ascot in the July Cup.

Appleby, buoyed by an excellent Goodwood and well aware that Battaash threw away his chance by boiling over before last year's Nunthorpe, said: "We were pleased to see Battaash come out and win the way he did at Goodwood as it franks the Ascot form.

Blue Point: will be hoping to vanquish Battaash again in the Nunthorpe Stakes

"Blue Point is in great form and we're looking forward to dropping back to five against him at York."

Of Blue Point's seventh-placed finish in the July Cup, Appleby added: "William [Buick] just felt Blue Point wasn't as comfortable on the July course last time as he would be at Ascot.

"As we know, he always brings his A-game to Ascot but he's only run once at York and on that occasion he won the Gimcrack by three lengths, so I'm hoping he's going to be as good at York as he is at Ascot."

Temperament has long been an issue with Battaash – hence his early gelding – and could be a key chink in his armour at York.

However, he has behaved much better of late and horse behaviourist Gary Witheford, who has worked hard on him with his son Craig, does not expect a repeat of what happened 12 months ago.

Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes entries and betting

Witheford said: "York is about the toughest lead-up in the country, with that long walk across the track to the saddling boxes and then the very public and busy scene down at the start, but Goodwood wouldn't be too far behind and Battaash was brilliant on Friday.

"He lost the plot last year. He was funny when being saddled and then lost it completely down at the start, which is next to a public footpath and attracts a lot of people with dogs, one of whom set him off by barking. Remember a horse is a flight animal – that's what makes them so quick – and dogs are hunters.

Battaash and Jim Crowley finish four lengths clear of Take Cover in the King George Stakes

"Friday was the best he's ever been, behaviour wise, and I predict he'll be fine back at York. He's the best around and what he did at Goodwood was unbelievable. He just breaks their hearts and he was able to leave a horse with Take Cover's blistering speed for dead.

"They have to go back to York with him, as there's only one Nunthorpe, but as a precaution I will recommend he's boxed up to come across the track this time, just to eliminate one potentially problematic part of the preliminaries. They did it with Mecca's Angel, who was a similar type and won the Nunthorpe twice."

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Friday was the best he's ever been, behaviour wise, and I predict he'll be fine back at York
E.W. Terms
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