Royal Ascot: Charlie Hills backs Battaash to keep cool in King’s Stand Stakes

Mon 18 Jun 2018

By staff

Charlie Hills is cautiously optimistic that Battaash can keep his cool in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot on Tuesday.

The star sprinter can be a little tempestuous, but his trainer has a few tricks up his sleeve to ensure all will be well on the big day.

Speaking to Racing UK's weekly Sunday breakfast show, Luck On Sunday, Hills said: “You never quite know with Battaash.

“The stables are a little bit away from the racecourse so we’ll probably just try and get him up there while the race before is running, and then just put him in a quiet box – just down the end.”

Group One winner Battaash made an encouraging return to action at Haydock last month and is set to wage war with Lady Aurelia, who won the King’s Stand Stakes 12 months ago.

Hills said: “Lady Aurelia’s a very good filly and she’s unbeaten at Ascot, so she’s going to be a hard nut to crack.

“But I’m pretty happy. Battaash is in good form and his work was very good (on Saturday). You just need things to go right in the sprints.”

Wesley Ward was also a guest on Luck On Sunday and reports Lady Aurelia in top trim ahead of her quest for a third consecutive Royal Ascot triumph.

The American handler said: “Her last few works have been very, very good. She’s an older mare now and came in this year heavier.

“She was beaten  in her prep – she was second – but she ran a really good race. She’s ready to run big. I’m very excited.”

Charlie Appleby, who saddled Masar to win the Derby at Epsom this month, has yet to win a Group 1 contest at the Royal Meeting but seeks to put that right with Blue Point, the track record holder over six furlongs at Ascot - when beating Harry Angel in last year’s Pavilion Stakes - and whose only defeat in three starts at the course was when a close third in the Commonwealth Cup 12 months ago.

“He’s gone under the radar and has only really run one disappointing race in his life - and that was in Hong Kong last time,” Appleby said. “It was my first experience there and I learnt plenty. We tried to take them on at their own game but sprinting is their forte and it didn’t materialise.

“We gave him a break afterwards and he did well for it. We’ve been winding him up last fortnight and he’s really turned the corner - putting in a serious bit of work last Saturday.

“He showed he’s got the pace for five when he was second to Ertijaal, who we know is in no slouch, in Dubai (in March), and five up the hill at Ascot is going to be ideal. He’s got bigger and stronger as he’s got older. Some may have written him off after last time, but he doesn’t know that.”

The King's Stand is the first race in the Sprint Category of this year's QIPCO Britsih Champions Series.

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