Brilliant Battaash blitzes Temple Stakes field

Victory completes magnificent afternoon for Charlie Hills

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Battaash again staked a big claim for top sprinting honours as he scorched home in what looked a vintage renewal of the Armstrong Aggregates Temple Stakes at Haydock.

The 2017 Prix de l’Abbaye winner has speed to burn and was up against a handful of other fast horses, with no prisoners taken.

Caspian Prince and Kachy flew out of the stalls and made the running towards the far side, with Alpha Delphini in third place towards the near side.

At halfway, Jim Crowley decided to tack across towards the two leaders and he was soon in front on Charlie Hills’ five-year-old, who was having his first run since undergoing minor wind surgery.

Battaash showed his rivals a clean pair of heels and galloped past the line two and a half lengths clear of Alpha Delphini, with Mabs Cross third, as he became the first horse to land back-to-back victories since Mind Games in 1995 and 1996.

His victory completed a dream half an hour for Hills, after the win of Phoenix Of Spain in the Irish 2,000 Guineas.

Crowley said: “I was very lucky that I just missed it a beat coming out of the gates.

“Funnily enough he missed the kick in this race last year. Then at Ascot, I just let him jump normally and he winged the gates and was in front, doing too much. So I purposely tried to miss it on him.

“It’s never easy on this fella. But I was able to get in behind one. Even if it’s just for a furlong, it helped me rather than charging off in front.

“After a furlong, they weren’t going quick enough. I tried to take a pull on him, but he does his own thing.”

He added: “I think the horse is in better form this year – he seems a lot happier, and is a lot more forward in his coat than this time last year.

“He was much better (mentally) – he was OK. Sometimes things set him off, but today he was pretty good. He got a bit warm, but by no means compared to what he used to be.

“Definitely the King’s Stand (next). Probably, he can go back to York (Nunthorpe Stakes) or you’ve got the Flying Five in Ireland and finish up with the Goodwood race he’s won twice now – it’d be nice to do it three times. He’s a smashing horse.”

Richard Hills, assistant racing manager to winning owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum and brother of the winning trainer, said: “The best half an hour (after stable’s Curragh win).

“He was really good today. A lot of credit (must go) to Dane O’Neill, who’s been riding this horse a lot.

“The horse is a lot better this year. I just said to Jim, once you’ve got him settled I always knew he was going to finish – he’s got a massive amount of speed.

“It’s just retaining it. (But) when he’s on song like that, he’s a hard horse to beat.”

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