Battaash has at times electrified the European sprinting scene during the past three seasons and he appears to have a major chance of capturing Tuesday’s (16 June) Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes (1000m) on Royal Ascot’s opening day, this being the fifth event on the seven-race simulcast programme.
The six-year-old gelding has landed major sprint prizes at five tracks but Ascot has so far escaped him, though he did finish second to Blue Point in the King’s Stand in both 2018 and 2019.
Blue Point, that sizzling Godolphin-owned sprinter, is now safely at stud and, with his formidable rating of 126, Battaash holds a clear theoretical advantage over all his rivals in this historic dash up the Ascot straight.
Trainer Charlie Hills has shepherded Battaash from the start of his career but the speedster hasn’t always been easy and, though using less nervous energy in the moments before a big assignment these days, the trainer believes that the less frenetic atmosphere of a behind-closed-doors Royal Ascot may be a calming positive.
Hills says of the 10-time sprinting winner: “It’s going to be a different Royal Ascot but it might suit Battaash with so many fewer people. It should be a good experience for him.
“His work is as good as ever, and we’ve had no setbacks with him this year.”
Hills says that ‘horrible’ ground was the reason for Battaash’s poor show on his final 2019 start in Longchamp’s Group 1 Prix de L’Abbaye – but it didn’t prevent Glass Slippers – perhaps his main rival on Tuesday – giving a dazzling winning display that afternoon in October.
Having pinged the gates and led after about 300m she never looked like getting caught by any of her 15 rivals, gliding to a 3 length victory. That was her third win on the bounce, and it appears that the drop to 1000m has really advertised her brilliance.
She certainly doesn’t need muddy ground – indeed she won on a fast surface earlier in her career – and with current predictions being for ground just on the soft side of good on Tuesday – there will be no complaints from trainer Kevin Ryan – or regular jockey Tom Eaves – on that score.
Ryan, who is becoming increasingly renowned for training brilliant speedsters says of Glass Slippers: “Last season she just got quicker as the season went on. She has wintered well and looks terrific.”