GBI RACING

Blue Point foils Battaash in King’s Stand thriller

Blue Point foils Battaash at Royal Ascot

Blue Point wore down Battaash to claim top honours in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The five-furlong sprint was billed as a match between the Charlie Hills-trained Battaash and Wesley Ward’s defending champion Lady Aurelia, who was bidding for a third Royal Ascot victory overall.

Battaash, who has played up in the preliminaries previously, was perfectly well behaved on this occasion and flew out of the stalls once the gates opened to take the early lead.

With Lady Aurelia failing to pick up, Battaash briefly looked to have cut loose racing inside the final two furlongs.

However, Charlie Appleby’s Blue Point (6-1) managed to reel him in late on and was well on top at the line under William Buick, scoring by a length and three-quarters.

Battaash just held on for second place, ahead of Mabs Cross in third.

Appleby – who teamed up with Buick to win the Derby through Masar in the Godolphin colours earlier this month – was thrilled to see the colt regain his best form.

He said: “The Derby was fantastic, but this horse means a lot.

“I’m just delighted. We’ve loved this horse since he was a two-year-old. I was confident coming into today that he was the right horse.”

Appleby went on: “He ran third in the Commonwealth (Cup) last year and finished the year off on a high at Ascot. Whatever the reason, he always brings his A game here.

“Going into Dubai World Cup night I thought he was my banker, but it didn’t materialise.

“Going to Hong Kong taught myself and my team a few manners. Next time we’ll do better. Unfortunately the horse had a torrid time on the way back.

The Princess Royal presents the winner's trophy to William Buick and Charlie Appleby
The Princess Royal presents the winner’s trophy to William Buick and Charlie Appleby (John Walton/PA)

“We gave him a nice break and those who look after him have done a great job getting him back to where he is.

“I couldn’t have been any happier the last two weeks the way his preparation has gone. He put in a really good piece of work the other day.

“We came into this week and his Highness Sheikh Mohammed said ‘we’ve won the Derby, let’s just enjoy this week’. He said applaud everybody who has a winner and if we have one, then great.

“I think the stiff five has suited him and that good, strong pace. Let’s enjoy the day and see in the next week or two what we do on the future.”

William Buick celebrates on Blue Point
William Buick celebrates on Blue Point (Nigel French/PA)

Buick added: “I’m very, very pleased for the horse – he deserves it.

“He’s a very quick horse, I was always very comfortable where I was and I always knew he would see the race out better than Battaash and it was just a case of whether I would be close enough.”

Hills took defeat for Battaash on the chin, saying: “He ran a great race. Like I said before the race, there was not just one horse we had to beat, there were plenty of others good horses and Blue Point was one of them.

“He jumped great today and he had to use that speed. He had got them all beat at one stage, but it is a stiff five furlongs here. I can’t say the track beat him – Blue Point is just a very good horse.

“There is the Nunthorpe, but there is also a race in Ireland so we will have to wait and see where we go.”

Michael Dods could look at the Nunthorpe at York for third-placed Mabs Cross.

He said: “We are over the moon. We felt we had her as good as ever heading here.

“She would have probably preferred a little bit more juice in the ground, not that she needs it, but it would have helped slow down the likes of Battaash and Lady Aurelia.

“Maybe we’ve dropped a clanger not entering her in the July Cup. We might think of the Nunthorpe as her next target.

“I think she is improving. I am delighted with her as it was a big step up. Every time we have asked her, she has stepped up and answered what we’ve asked her to do.”

Jockey John Velazquez felt Lady Aurelia just was not at her best on the day.

He said: “We broke really well but when I asked her quicken, she stayed really flat today. She didn’t have the kick that she normally does. She seemed to handle the ground well – she just didn’t fire.”

Ward added: “I think Johnny summed it up, we were right there. She trained beautifully coming into the race. She is older and seasoned so I just don’t know. She gave us some great moments.

“We will get back to the barn and see if she is all right. She looked like she came back good and sound. We will scope her and see what that gives us.”