Last Updated: 23/07/19 2:09pm
Battaash and Jim Crowley are clear at Haydock
Hopes are high talented sprinter Battaash can maintain his perfect record at Goodwood with a record-breaking third victory in the King George Qatar Stakes.
The Charlie Hills-trained gelding will bid to write his name into the history books at the Sussex track in the five-furlong showpiece he has won for the last two seasons.
While finding the now-retired Blue Point too strong for the second year in succession in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, Hills feels the Dark Angel gelding will be hard to beat back at his favourite track.
Hills said: “This has not been done before, so that would be a great achievement. I can’t see a reason why it won’t happen.
“He is quite small and nimble and whether he handles going down the hill better than some of those big sprinters, that may be the case.
“He is a tremendously fast horse. If we try to get the fractions right he will be a hard horse to beat.”
Although the Royal meeting proved the undoing of Battaash once again after making a winning return in the Temple Stakes at Haydock, just as he did 12 months ago, Hills believes the outcome may have been different had the race been run to suit.
Hills added: “When you look back at the race, nothing really went right for him. We thought we were going to get a good pace off the Australian horse (Houtzen), but that horse unfortunately slipped coming out of the stalls.
“That took us back out of the race too far, so we had to make our mid-race move probably a bit sooner than ideal and with a track like that, Ascot is probably going to find him out a little bit for stamina.”
Despite Battaash now being a year older, Hills feels his Group One-winning speedster is in a much better place to the one he was in for most of 2018.
Supervising his star on Tuesday morning, Hills said: “Last year we were never 100 per cent happy with him. He took a long time to come in his coat and he was a little bit on edge in his training.
“Since he came back into training this year he has been a different horse. He has been a pleasure to train and be around.
“As you saw there, he is beautifully relaxed cantering up there with his ears pricked and seems to be taking everything in and enjoying himself.”
Battaash may have failed to back up his last two Goodwood victories when stepped back up to the top table in the Coolmore Nunthorpe at York, but Hills feels he can alter that statistic, providing all goes to plan on his next start.
He said: “He has finished fourth both times, but I think we will go back this year and give it one more go.
“You would have thought York would be his perfect course, a level, flat track great for speedsters. If everything goes to plan I’m sure he can win there.”