CHARLIE Hills has issued a positive bulletin regarding the possibility of superstar sprinter Battaash defending his crown in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The seven-year-old, who went unbeaten last season under jockey Jim Crowley, picked up a small fracture in the winter which led to a longer lay off than usual for the horse.
After finishing second to Blue Point in 2018 and 2019 in the King’s Stand, Battaash went one better when beating stablemate Equilateral in the race last June before going on to win the King George Stakes at Goodwood for a fourth time and the Nunthorpe at York’s Ebor Festival for a second time.
“He’s been back with us a week now and straight away he’s settled back into his routine of what he has done for the last few years. I’m really pleased with him,” said Hills.
“He’s not backward in his coat, which is nice as it has been pretty cold weather. I’m really pleased with where we are with him actually.
“At the moment there’s no reason why he wouldn’t make it (Ascot). His weight is pretty good and he’s showing all the same levels of enthusiasm that he always has done, so I’m happy.”
Meanwhile leading fancy Astro King headlines a maximum field of 16 chasing record prize money in the £50,000 Cliff Stud Thirsk Hunt Cup tomorrow.
The form of Astro King’s comeback success at Nottingham on April 7 could not be working out better, with the second and third having gone on to victory at Haydock Park and Newbury.
Richard Kingscote’s mount is aiming to build on Sir Michael Stoute’s eye-catching record at Thirsk – the Newmarket trainer has sent out six winners from eight runners atthe track over the last five seasons.
Bruce Raymond, racing manager to owner Saeed Suhail, said: “We were very pleased with the way Astro King won at Nottingham and I know Sir Michael would not run him here unless he felt he had a good chance.”
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