Royal Ascot: Battaash ready for King's Stand test despite lack of racecourse action, says trainer Charlie Hills

Battaash looking to defend King's Stand Stakes title on opening day of Royal Ascot's five-day meeting; Charlie Hill-trained seven-year-old last ran in August last year; watch every race at Royal Ascot live on Sky Sports Racing, June 15-19

Battaash is set to return to Royal Ascot for the fifth time as he tries to defend his King's Stand Stakes title 1:32
Shadwell Stud racing manager Angus Gold told Sky Sports Racing leading Royal Ascot hope Battaash looks as fast as ever

Charlie Hills is confident Battaash will be unhindered by his lack of racecourse action since last August as he bids for back-to-back victories in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The brilliant sprinter finally broke his duck at the Berkshire venue in last year's renewal of Tuesday's five-furlong Group One before going on to win a fourth King George Stakes at Goodwood and a second Nunthorpe at York.

Battaash has not been seen in competitive action since the latter of those triumphs 10 months ago, after a winter setback delayed his reappearance, but Hills has been delighted with his preparation for this Qipco British Champions Series contest.

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The Lambourn trainer said: "Battaash came in a couple of weeks later than usual this year, so we were never going to fit in a prep run, but I couldn't be happier with him.

"They found a tiny hairline fracture in a sesamoid when he had his usual MOT at the end of last year, but that was attended to in December.

"They've done a great job with him at Shadwell over the winter, and spring was so awful that coming back later has probably helped him.

"We've taken our time, and he hasn't missed a beat."

Also See:

Royal Ascot Group 1 races

2.30 Tuesday - The Queen Anne Stakes

3.40 Tuesday - The King's Stand Stakes

4.20 Tuesday - The St James's Palace Stakes

3.40 Wednesday - The Prince of Wales's Stakes

4.20 Thursday - The Gold Cup

3.40 Friday - The Commonwealth Cup

4.20 Friday - The Coronation Stakes

4.20 Saturday - The Diamond Jubilee Stakes

Among the opposition in a field of 16, Tim Easterby is looking forward to saddling exciting filly Winter Power - who won at Listed and Group Three level last autumn and picked up where she left off with a hugely impressive comeback performance in last month's Westow Stakes at York.

Easterby said: "She's in good form. She has a good draw (stall seven) and will handle the track, so she should run well."

Roger Teal drops last year's July Cup hero Oxted down to the minimum distance for the first time.

The five-year-old was last seen finishing third over six furlongs in the Duke of York Stakes.

Oxted will be Roger Teal's only Royal Ascot runner this year
Image: Oxted will be Roger Teal's only Royal Ascot runner this year

"The draw is not too bad (stall 14). It looks like there's plenty of pace around him, so we're happy enough," said Teal.

"We're very happy with him going into it. He's trained well - all his work is done now, and we'll see what happens on the day.

"You always need a bit of luck, so fingers crossed."

There are two leading contenders from America, in Brendan Walsh's Extravagant Kid and the Wesley Ward-trained Maven.

Royal Ascot runners in 2020 1:42
Ascot's clerk of the course Chris Stickels gives an update on the ground conditions ahead of the opening day of the Royal meeting on Tuesday

Extravagant Kid was last seen winning the Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai and will be ridden by Frankie Dettori.

Walsh said: "We've had a good start to the year, and Extravagant Kid winning in Dubai was massive. Hopefully we can follow up on it at Ascot.

"Last year he was beaten a length in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. He's won or been placed in multiple stakes and graded stakes - he's never far away.

"It's not Dubai. Meydan is a flatter track - it (Al Quoz Sprint) is six furlongs, whereas this is a stiff five. He's an athletic horse, and there's no doubt he'll handle the undulations.

Tuesday at Royal Ascot: Tips and preview

Tuesday at Royal Ascot: Tips and preview

Tips, previews and guide to Tuesday's meeting including the St James's Palace Stakes

"The ground looks like it's going to be perfect. It's going to be the first day of the meeting, so it's going to be really nice ground."

Ward won the 2017 King's Stand with Lady Aurelia and hopes he can add to his tally with Maven.

He said: "When Maven ran in an allowance race at Keeneland in April, we felt he was a bit short fitness-wise. On the day he bounced out in front - and when they came to him, I thought he was going to surrender, but he just took off again.

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"I was delighted with that performance - and then once I saw the numbers, it inspired me to put him on the team for Royal Ascot.

"He will have to move forward from that again to be in the mix for the King's Stand, but I think he is entitled to do so."

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