Roll on Ascot for resurgent Battaash

Hills’ mighty sprinter put problems behind him at Haydock

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Connections of Battaash are hoping his imperious display in the Temple Stakes proves he has put all his problems behind him.

Having his first run since a wind operation, the Charlie Hills-trained five-year-old blitzed Group One winners Alpha Delphini and Mabs Cross – while all-weather star Kachy could not lay a glove on him either at Haydock on Saturday.

It sets up a mouth-watering clash with Blue Point, last year’s winner of the King’s Stand, back at Royal Ascot next month – with Mabs Cross and Alpha Delphini taking him on again.

“His ability has never been in question, but it is always nice to see,” said owner Hamdan Al Maktoum’s racing manager Angus Gold.

“He’s had quite a lot of problems that I don’t think many people have latched on to. He doesn’t have the best of knees, and I’m sure that’s part of the reason he’s got beaten before now.

“He puts a hell of a lot into his races even when he looks to win impressively, and I’m sure it takes a lot out of him.

“It was nice to see him come back, and now we’ve got to get him to Ascot in the same shape.”

While the top five-furlong races pick themselves, Gold suggested Battaash may miss the Nunthorpe at York in August – having been beaten there for the past two seasons.

“I’m not a great believer in horses not liking a particular track, and there’s no particular reason why he shouldn’t like York,” said Gold.

“But he’s been beaten there twice, and Charlie doesn’t want to go there as far as I know.”

Alternatives present themselves relatively easily.

Gold added: “We’ll get through Ascot and see where we go, but obviously Goodwood would be high on the list with the Abbaye (at ParisLongchamp) as well – and then there’s talk of going to Ireland in between for the Flying Five on Champions Weekend.

“With a horse like him, you just take one race at a time, though.

“He’s only five and he’s a gelding, so hopefully there’s a few more years left in him if his legs hold up and we need to keep him mentally sweet.”

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