Battaash makes it third time lucky at Royal Ascot
Successful day for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid and his retained jockey Jim Crowley
Battaash made it third time lucky at Royal Ascot after winning the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes convincingly on the opening day of Royal Ascot.
It turned out to be a momentous day for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid and his retained jockey Jim Crowley as they celebrated a treble with three different trainers.
The Richard Hannon-trained Motakhayyel won the opening Buckingham Palace Handicap before John Gosden’s Nazeef completed the treble with victory in the Group 2 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes.
Battaash, who had to play second fiddle behind Godolphin’s Blue Point in the last two years in the race, struck in-between to bag the biggest prize on offer yesterday.
The six-year-old Dark Angel gelding, trained by Charles Hills and returning to the racetrack for the first time in more than eight months, appeared to be in sublime form.
He led on the near-stand rails and powered to the front to win by two-and-half lengths from another Hills-trained runner, Equilateral in the silks of Saudi Arabia’s Prince Khalid Abdullah.
“He was really on his A-game today. I could tell he was going to be very hard to beat,” Hills said. “I am looking forward to going back to Goodwood to win the King George for a fourth time.”
Crowley said he tried to restrain Battaash in the early part of the race fearing his enthusiasm in case he wore himself out.
“Obviously it is his first run this season and he is fresh,” the 2016 British champion jockey said.
“I was merely a passenger early on and trying to save something for the finish. It is nice to make it third time lucky. He is showing no signs of slowing down, that is for sure. He has so much speed I would love to have a tow in races but it is just not happening.”
The first day of the meeting could have been even merrier for the Dubai operations had Godolphin’s Terebellum not denied by Circus Maximus in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes. Aidan O’Brien’s runner under Ryan Moore grabbed that prize after getting up in the final couple of strides for the win by a neck's margin.
With that success, O’Brien accomplished the milestone of 150 Group 1 victories as trainer and a third top-level prize for Circus Maximum.
Godolphin will be hoping Barney Roy could benefit from a successful winter in Dubai as he bids at a second Royal Ascot win, according to his handler Charlie Appleby.
The six year old faces six rivals in the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes. Barney Roy was successful in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2017. His brief career at stud in 2018 was curtailed, and after a gelding operation, he was sent back into training last year.
“I feel confident he is back to his best, and as a past winner at the Royal meeting, he has a lot of class,” Appleby said.
“He steps back up to a mile-and-a-quarter after two wins in Dubai during winter, when he really strengthened as an individual.”
Updated: June 16, 2020 10:46 PM