Charlie Hills-trained Battaash, the highest-rated horse among the hundreds worldwide carrying the Shadwell blue and white of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is on schedule for his 2020 and 6-year-old debut, per his conditioner. The gelded son of Dark Angel returned to Hills’ yard at Faringdon Place in mid-March and has been incrementally amplifying his preparation.
“He’s come back very well,” Hills said. “He was a little more wintry than last year, but the last couple weeks, his coat has really been coming through. He’s physically done well and I’m happy with him. He’s had one swinging canter and we’re just trying to keep him ticking over. He’s not a big horse, so he doesn’t take as much training and is a good, clean-winded type.”
In 2019, the 126-rated sprinter cut holes in said wind, winning three of five, including an otherworldly performance in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York Racecourse. Annihilating the course record by 1.4 seconds, he stopped the clock at 55.90 seconds for five furlongs.
Earlier in the season, he was an admirable runner-up for the second consecutive year to subsequently crowned champion sprinter Blue Point in Royal Ascot’s Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes.
This year, the multiple Group 1 winner of 10 from 20 whose massive 136 Timeform mark makes him the top-rated horse in Europe, will hope the third time is the charm in the King’s Stand—but he likely must run without a prep. Thanks to the ongoing COVID-19-related complications on racing in Great Britain, his foundation run in Haydock’s Group 2 Temple Stakes has been toppled.
“It depends on how they program the rest of the year for him, but I don’t think we will be able to get a prep in before Royal Ascot, unfortunately,” Hills continued. “The race we would use has been abandoned, so we’ll go straight to Ascot. I don’t think anyone knows how it will all happen, but hopefully they do run it and all goes well. He should stay fresher later on into the year and we’ll be able to keep him going well, hopefully.”
Hills also expressed excitement regarding his 2-year-olds who are set to carry the famed Shadwell silks this year, many who did their breaking and early training from fall 2019 through spring 2020 at the renowned Dubai Stables.
“I am really happy with the ones I’ve seen,” Hills said. “A son of Ghanaati arrived a couple weeks ago and he looks like a really nice horse. He’s the best-looking of any of hers that I’ve seen. I’m really happy with them.”
Ghanaati, from just six starts, won the 1000 Guineas (G1) and Coronation (G1) before placing in both the Sussex Stakes (G1) against males and Sun Chariot (G1) against older fillies and mares. Her offspring include 2019 Royal Ascot winner Afaak and Mahab Al Shimaal (G3) winner Wafy.