Jim Crowley expects Battaash to again be one of the horses to beat in the top sprints when the season eventually gets under way.
The Charlie Hills-trained six-year-old enjoyed another fine year in 2019, returning in style in the Temple Stakes at Haydock before finding old rival Blue Point a shade too good in the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot, as he had 12 months earlier.
A third consecutive victory in the King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood followed, before previous disappointments in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York were put to one side as he stormed down the Knavesmire in August to beat Soldier’s Call.
Former champion jockey Crowley is looking forward to getting back aboard the Dark Angel gelding, and told Sky Sports Racing: “He was good last year, the only blip was the Abbaye at the end of the year, but he’s back in now, I’ve seen him and he looks in good form.
“Hopefully if Royal Ascot gets the go ahead it would be nice to go back there. He’s been second twice now to Blue Point, so it would be nice to go one better with him, and that’s where he’d probably start off I’d say.
“He’s something special, he really is quick. Unfortunately Ascot is a very stiff five furlongs, but he hasn’t run a bad race there and when he’s good, he’s very, very good.”
Another older horse to fly the flag for the Sheikh Hamdan team is Elarqam, trained by Mark Johnston,
Crowley said: “He’s a smashing horse and is bred absolutely in the purple being by Frankel out of Attraction.
“He ran a really good race in the Juddmonte, he got a bit outpaced that day and then of course they stayed on the far rail, it looked like he wasn’t going to be in the first four and then he came home really well and ran out of room.
“He’s a serious horse. It would be nice to make him a Group One winner, he’s one of those horses who get better with age and is an exciting prospect for this season.”
Crowley is also hoping for good things from John Gosden’s Enbihaar, who was beaten less than two lengths in the Prix de Royallieu at ParisLongchamp in October.
He said: “I think she’s a real star. She’s a five-year-old and Sheikh Hamdan normally retires his fillies at three, so to have kept her in training for the last two seasons shows what we think of her.
“She only just got bogged down in the mud in France, she was beaten by an Oaks winner (stablemate Anapurna), giving her weight. The better fillies races don’t come until later in the season, but I’m sure Mr Gosden will have a plan for her and I’m very much looking forward to getting back on her.”