'He's come back very well' - brilliant Battaash to head straight to King's Stand
Battaash, the brilliantly fast sprinter and star of trainer Charlie Hills's yard, is being geared up for the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, a race that has so far eluded him.
The six-year-old, owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum, has lit up racecourses over the past four seasons with wins in the likes of the Prix de l'Abbaye, Nunthorpe Stakes and three successive runnings of the King George Stakes at Goodwood, where his speed has been scintillating.
However, Ascot has not been the happiest hunting ground for Battaash, who was unruly and lost his chance in the stalls before the 2016 Windsor Castle Stakes and found the now-retired Blue Point too good in the last two runnings of the King's Stand Stakes.
With the King's Stand traditionally taking place on the first day of Royal Ascot, scheduled to be June 16 this year, Battaash is set to go straight to the 5f contest without a prep run.
"He's come back very well," said Hills. "He was a little more wintry than last year, but the last couple weeks his coat has really been coming through.
"He's physically done well and I'm happy with him. He's had one swinging canter and we're just trying to keep him ticking over. He's not a big horse, so he doesn't take as much training, and is a good, clean-winded type.
"It depends on how they programme the rest of the year for him, but I don't think we will be able to get a prep in before Royal Ascot unfortunately, so we'll go straight to Ascot. He should stay fresher later on into the year and we'll be able to keep him going well, hopefully."
Speaking as part of a Shadwell media update, Hills also nominated a son of Ghanaati, who landed the 1,000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes for his father Barry, as a two-year-old who has caught his eye.
Hills said: "A son of Ghanaati arrived a couple weeks ago and he looks like a really nice horse. He's the best-looking of any of hers that I've seen. I'm really happy with them [Sheikh Hamdan's juveniles]."
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