Charlie Hills, trainer of sprinting star Battaash, is “tremendously happy” with the hot favourite for Tuesday (15 June)’s G1 King’s Stand Stakes (1000m) at Royal Ascot.
Battaash won the race on his first appearance of 2020 and will again be making his seasonal reappearance at Royal Ascot. Last season, as a six-year-old, Battaash went on to win the G2 King George Stakes (1000m) at Goodwood and G1 Nunthorpe Stakes (1000m) at York, for the second year, and Hills believes his stable star is as good as ever.
Hills said: “I am aware that he is getting older but sprinters can be at their best at six or seven years old. Battaash has not been over-raced and there is no sign of him slowing up in his work. He started work a few weeks later than usual this year but he hasn’t missed a day and I am tremendously happy with him.”
Battaash has performed well on a range of different types of ground. Hills said: “Fast ground is best for him, simply because he is so fast. Slower ground slows him down a bit.”
Battaash will be the centre of attention but, even in the absence of the top class Glass Slippers, re-routed to the G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes over 1200m on Saturday, he will need to be at his best.
The US-trained Lady Aurelia won the King’s Stand as a three-year-old in 2017 and Tim Easterby has another exciting three-year-old filly in the shape of Winter Power, a pure sprinter who has never raced beyond five furlongs.
Winter Power improved markedly last autumn and made an impressive winning return in the Listed Westow Stakes (1000m) at York last month. Easterby said: “She is a very exciting filly and I am excited at running her. She’s a queen of a filly, very good, fast and mature. She is everything you’d want and is in great form, flying – couldn’t be better.”
Easterby’s enthusiasm for a horse he regards as possibly the best the multiple G1-winning trainer has trained is infectious.
While Winter Power will be making her first appearance at Ascot, Liberty Beach has raced there twice and run well both times, finishing fourth in the G2 Queen Mary Stakes (1000m) as a two-year-old in 2019 and third in the King’s Stand last year.
The filly went on to be a narrowly beaten third in the G1 Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp (1000m) and pleased trainer John Quinn with her winning reappearance on testing ground in the G2 Temple Stakes (1000m) at Haydock last month.
Quinn said: “I was delighted with her comeback run. She was very tenacious, seems a bit stronger this year and handles all ground except firm. She’s been competing at a very high level and Jason Hart gets on particularly well with her.”
Quinn’s second string, Keep Busy, is a less obvious contender but was only narrowly beaten in a G1 event in Ireland last year and also ran well in the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp.