Charlie Hills and his team are working on a strategy to try to keep the lid on Battaash before the stalls open in next week’s King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The four-year-old was an impressive four-length winner of the Prix de l’Abbaye at Chantilly at the end of last season and his clash with last year’s King’s Stand winner, the Wes Ward-trained Lady Aurelia, is set to be one of the highlights of the week.
Lady Aurelia finished in front of Battaash in the Nunthorpe at York last August, but Hills’ speedster blew his chance by getting worked up before the race.
“We’re trying to find the right strategy to put the saddle on and bring him out late – there are things we’ve thought through. We’ll try to go down nice and quiet and go down last, like he did at Chantilly and Haydock,” said Hills.
“He’s had a few niggly problems with the stalls so Craig and Gary Witheford will be with him as well. He’ll go in late with a blindfold, too.”
Battaash, who was victorious on his return at Haydock last month, underwent wind surgery after the Abbaye but Hills is not sure it has made much difference.
“The wind op happened over the winter, just a couple of weeks after he won the Abbaye,” he told At The Races.
“Back at Shadwell (Stud), he had a routine scope to check for ulcers and they found a trapped epiglottis, which is a pretty straightforward procedure.
“If that has improved him, then he’s going to be very hard to beat, but I don’t think it’s made much difference at all really.”
Battaash and Lady Aurelia are two of the star names among 17 confirmations for the King’s Stand.
Lady Aurelia is set to be joined by fellow American challenger Bucchero, trained by Timothy Glyshaw, while Mauricio Delcher Sanchez’s Finsbury Square is the sole French-trained representative after being supplemented for the race.
Aidan O’Brien is responsible for five of the seven Irish contenders with Washington DC, Battle Of Jericho, Declarationofpeace, Actress and Different League all in the mix.
The Joseph O’Brien-trained Speak In Colours and Gerard O’Leary’s Primo Uomo are the other potential runners from across the Irish Sea.
Leading hopes for the home team, along with Battaash, include Charlie Appleby’s Blue Point, the Tom Dascombe-trained Kachy and Mabs Cross from the Michael Dods yard.