GBI RACING

Charlie Hills eager for Battaash return at Haydock

Battaash (centre) bounding to victory in the Qatar King George Stakes at Goodwood (Paul Harding/PA)

Charlie Hills is excited ahead of Battaash’s seasonal reappearance in the Armstrong Aggregates Temple Stakes at Haydock on Saturday.

The Lambourn trainer feels the timing between the Group Two on Merseyside and his first Group One target, the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, is perfect as he plots a new campaign for Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s four-year-old gelding.

The speedy son of Dark Angel enjoyed an excellent end to 2017 by blitzing the opposition in the Prix de l’Abbaye at Chantilly in October.

Hills said: “We are looking forward to Saturday. We have had no hold-ups with Battaash, who is a fairly easy and straightforward horse to train.

“I am happy with his weight and mindset. I am looking forward to getting him on the racecourse now.

“We have had plenty of time to think about it (where to start off). I just like the time-frame between the Temple Stakes and Royal Ascot, which is obviously the main target.

“He is quite a fresh and forward-going horse, so it is important that we give him a run before the King’s Stand Stakes – the Temple looks the ideal race.

“We have obviously got a penalty and there are some very fast horses in the race. Take Cover is a very quick horse, as are a few others. It is not going to be straightforward, but it will be nice to get Battaash back on the racecourse.”

Dane O'Neill
Dane O’Neill (Joe Giddens/PA)

Battaash will be ridden by Dane O’Neill as Sheikh Hamdan’s number one jockey Jim Crowley will be at the Curragh to partner Elarqam for the owner in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas.

Hills said: “I think Dane has probably ridden him more than Jim actually. Dane won on him twice last year, both times at Sandown, and obviously gets on with him well.

“He came down to ride Battaash work last Saturday and was happy. Dane is a very good jockey and I am sure he won’t do anything wrong with him.”

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