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Thursday, 18 October, 2018

King George lowdown: sprint star Battaash is 'moving like a dream'

Battaash: bidding for back-to-back King George successes
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3.35 Goodwood
King George Qatar Stakes (Group 2) | 5f, 3yo+ | ITV/RUK

Battaash is in the best form he has been all year as he returns to the scene of one of his stellar performances.

Trainer Charlie Hills says the top sprinter is "moving like a dream" and is as ready as he can be to put on the kind of show that led to him ending 2017 as Europe's best horse at five furlongs.

A leading fancy for the King's Stand Stakes, Battaash got very warm before the race, broke keenly and ended up setting a pace in front which was good enough to see of most of the field except Blue Point, who swept past inside the final furlong.

He carries a Group penalty as he bids to become the first since Lochsong in 1993 and 1994 to win the race two years running, and is one of three previous winners of the race, alongside Take Cover (2016, 2014) and Muthmir (2015).

Hills said: "He's moving like a dream and I think it's the best we've had him this year.

"He has a 3lb penalty, but I think he's got a bit in hand. You never like to be too confident, but he's got the best form in the race and is pretty much a long way ahead of the rest.

"He was second in the King's Stand at Royal Ascot, but that's a hard track to make the running and I think places like Goodwood suit him a lot better."

He continued: "I'll leave tactics to Jim Crowley and he'll be where Battaash is happy. He won't be pulling him back but he won't be trying to go any faster than he needs to.

"Maybe it would have helped at Ascot if Lady Aurelia had broken well and given us a lead as he was out in front for a long time and Blue Point got a lovely lead off us. He's come in his coat since the royal meeting and I can't wait."


What they say

David Griffiths, trainer of Duke Of Firenze and Take Cover
It's a hot race and seems to get hotter each year. If the Battaash from last year's Abbaye turns up we're all in trouble but we feel he might have a few chinks in his armour. Take Cover feels better than ever and continues to hold his form at his age. He should once again go well. I expected Duke Of Firenze to win on Tuesday and can't explain his below-par run. It suits him running back quick, and if he returns to his Abbaye form from last year he could finish in the first four.

Karl Burke, trainer of Havana Grey
He's a touch fitter than he was going to the Curragh, three to four kilos lighter. He has improved since he took on Battaash in May but then so has Battaash. It's going to be a fast and furious race and it will be interesting to see what tactics everyone plays. He's in brilliant form at home and if he arrives in that form in the paddock he'll run a big race.

Tom Dascombe, trainer of Kachy
Ascot didn't really go our way. He's run well at Goodwood in the past having won the Molecomb so we know the track suits him. He has a bit to find with a couple in the race but is there with a chance.

Richard Fahey, trainer of Mr Lupton
Take Battaash out of it and I felt they were all in a heap so we supplemented [for £15,000]. Hopefully he can try and get that back. Since he has dropped back to five furlongs he's definitely got quicker and his form is rock solid. I thought it was worth a punt.

William Haggas, trainer of Muthmir
He has blinkers on for the first time in his life. He's in terrific form. He'll run well but the cards need to fall his way.

Aidan O'Brien, trainer of Sioux Nation
He ran quite well in the July Cup last time and dropping back to five furlongs won't be a problem.

Andrew Balding, trainer of Stone Of Destiny
He ran a terrific race at Ascot. I then thought he would win at York but for some reason he ran very poorly. I'm hoping we can see the best of him this time.

Clive Cox, trainer of Heartache
She ran a very pleasing race in the Commonwealth Cup. We realised we were better off back over five furlongs. I've been delighted with her since Ascot and she should be very much at home in the conditions.

Michael Bell, trainer of Main Desire
She didn't perform as we had expected at Ascot but I've been very happy with her the last two weeks and I'm expecting a much better performance this time.


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He's moving like a dream and I think it's the best we've had him this year
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