Charlie Hills reports Battaash to be firing on all cylinders ahead of his bid for a fifth consecutive victory in the King George Qatar Stakes at Goodwood next week.
The brilliant sprinter has produced some of his most devastating performances on the Sussex Downs and comfortably saw off top-class filly Glass Slippers when winning this five-furlong Group Two for a fourth time 12 months ago.
An early-season setback meant the seven-year-old did not make his first start of the current campaign until Royal Ascot last month, where he had to make do with minor honours in fourth when defending his crown in the King’s Stand.
Hills is confident that comeback run has left him cherry-ripe for his next assignment on Friday.
He said: “We’ve been very fortunate to have had Battaash in this yard. He’s become a massive part of our lives over the last six years. The most important thing is to keep in one piece, but we’re happy with him at this stage
“He has been good since his run at Ascot – we’ve had no hiccups at all. I thought he ran a great race (in the King’ Stand), but they probably went a stride fast which meant, on that track, it just found him out.
“Goodwood, being a speed track, really suits him. He’s a straightforward horse to train these days and we know which races to target him for. He’s good a good routine and enjoys his work, which is the most important thing.
“He’s still very competitive when you put a horse alongside him and as long as he’s got that, then it’s pretty uncomplicated with him.”
Owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum witnessed some great performances from Battaash at Goodwood, but this will be the first King George Qatar Stakes since his passing on what will prove to be an emotional day for connections.
“Battaash was very close to Sheikh Hamdan’s heart,” Hills added.
“Over those five years, he begun to watch him grow. The day he won the Nunthorpe (at York) was a very emotional day. He was a massive supporter of the yard and we had a lot of success and great days together.
“He is sadly missed, but it’s great that his daughter Sheikha Hissa will take on the operation and I so hope Battaash can win at Goodwood for her.”
Battaash will spearhead a select team of Goodwood runners for the Hills team.
The Lambourn handler is looking forward to saddling Pogo in Tuesday’s Unibet Lennox Stakes, while the following afternoon Summer Mile victor Tilsit will bid for Group One glory in the Qatar Sussex Stakes.
Mutasaabeq, meanwhile, is viewed as a suitable candidate for Friday’s Group Three Bonham Thoroughbred Stakes.
Hills said: “Pogo has been running in some good races this year. We’ve always planned to come to Goodwood with him and the forecast lovely ground on day one should suit him well. He’s won over the trip, so the drop back to seven furlongs shouldn’t inconvenience him.
“Tilsit is on the up. He’s still very lightly raced and is unexposed. He should get better with the more racing he gets.
“Mutasaabeq got his head back in front at Haydock and I thought he won it well. He’s come out of Haydock pretty well, but we’re going to see how he is on Tuesday before we declare him.”