Battaash Out for Repeat Royal Ascot Success in King's Stand
A dozen sprinting stars of generations past have won the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot more than once, and Charlie Hills' Battaash is looking to add his name to the list this year.
All has not gone to plan with the seven-year-old gelding, however, following a slight fracture that caused him to miss the start of the season. The death of Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, who founded the Shadwell Estates breeding operation and owned Battaash, has also brought sadness after his sustained support for both trainer Hills and British Flat horse racing in general.
Despite that backdrop to a defence of his King's Stand crown, Battaash remains favourite in the Royal Ascot betting on the race. He went through last season unbeaten in three starts when looking as good as ever. Battaash has farmed the King George Qatar Stakes at Glorious Goodwood in recent years and has now won that Group 2 event a record four times. He completed a hat-trick for the campaign with a second victory in the Nunthorpe Stakes during York's Ebor Festival.
Those successes earned Battaash the Cartier Champion Sprinter award, the first gelding since Sole Power to receive the accolade. It is recognition of his undoubted talent and moving out of the shadow cast by half-brother Blue Point, who retired to stud halfway through 2019.
Opposition in the King's Stand could include old rival Glass Slippers, the Kevin Ryan mare who added the Curragh's Flying Five Stakes and Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint to her own impressive CV last autumn. She hasn't beaten Battaash since the 2019 Prix de l'Abbaye on Arc Weekend at Longchamp with both set to make their reappearance at Ascot.
Que Amoro, meanwhile, got closest to him when beaten just a length in last year's Nunthorpe for another northern trainer in Michael Dods. She too could make her return to action after being withdrawn from Haydock's Group 2 Temple Stakes on soft ground in May.
Of those with runs under their belt, Winter Power ran out an impressive winner of a Listed contest at York for trainer Tim Easterby and John Quinn's filly Liberty Beach took the Temple on Merseyside. If last year's July Cup hero Oxted is to run at Royal Ascot at all, then it will be in the King's Stand as that is the only entry Roger Teal has for him there but he must bounce back from below-par runs.
American raider Extravagant Kid could bid to follow up on his Al Quoz Sprint success out in the Middle East with an outing in Britain here too. What most of these King's Stand contenders lack, however, is status as proven Group 1 performers.
Other than Glass Slippers, the opposition either has just the one major success at the highest level or none at all. Battaash has four Group 1 victories under his belt, so remains the one to beat. His record in the King's Stand of two seconds and a win remains among the best form on offer.