Battaash’s Royal Ascot readiness to be tested by Liberty Beach and Keep Busy

DEFENDING champion Battaash will face a maximum of 15 rivals in the King’s Stand Stakes – the five-furlong sprint on day one of Royal Ascot next Tuesday.

Battaash heads the field for next week's King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

They include a strong North Yorkshire challenge headed by John Quinn’s Liberty Beach, a recent winner at Haydock under Jason Hart, and stablemate Keep Busy.

Nigel Tinkler is also double-handed with Ubettabelieveit – a horse taking jockey Rowan Scott’s career to new heights –and Acklam Express.

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Tim Easterby has entered Winter Power but Kevin Ryan’s Breeders’ Cup heroine Glass Slippers is a notable absentee from the Group One race.

This was John Quinn's Liberty Beach (near side) winning the Temple Stakes at Haydock last month under Jason Hart.

Other entries of note include the perennial Ornate for Bawtry trainer David Griffiths and King’s Lynn who runs in the colours of the Queen for trainer Andrew Balding.

All will be given hope that Battaash, trained by Charlie Hills and the mount of former champion jockey Jim Crowley, has not been seen on a racecourse since winning York’s Nunthorpe Stakes at last year’s Ebor Festival. This was the culmination of a magnificent run that saw Battaash land the King’s Stand before maintaining his dominance of the King George Stakes at Goodwood by beating, amongst others, the aforementioned Glass Slippers.

Meanwhile, David O’Meara’s Lord Glitters is entered in a high quality renewal of the Queen Anne Stakes, a Group One mile race and the meeting’s traditional curtain-raiser.

Lord Glitters won the 2019 renewal under Danny Tudhope and will need to be at his brilliant best to beat John and Thady Gosden’s top miler Palace Pier, the mount of the peerless Frankie Dettori. Palace Pier won a thrilling renewal of the St James’s Palace Stakes last summer and made an impressive start to this campaign by turning the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury into a one-horse race.

Circus Maximus provided Aidan O’Brien with a fourth Queen Anne success 12 months ago, and the Ballydoyle handler is once again likely to be represented – with both Lope Y Fernandez and Order Of Australia left in at the confirmation 
stage. Lope Y Fernandez would need to bounce back from a disappointing effort in the Lockinge, while Order Of 
Australia could make his first appearance since finishing sixth in Hong Kong in December.

The third Group One on the opening day is the St James’s Palace Stakes, for which 15 colts have stood their ground. Jim Bolger’s Poetic Flare has already had a busy season – winning the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, sixth in the French Guineas and second in the Irish Guineas – but looks set to turn out again.