Battaash Back At Haydock On Saturday

Battaash Back At Haydock On Saturday

The king of speed Battaash returns at Haydock on Saturday, back in action in the Group Two Armstrong Aggregates Temple Stakes which he took on last year's reappearance.

The now five-year-old only went onto win on one of his next four starts for owner Hamdan Al Maktoum last season, with that victory coming in Group Two level at Glorious Goodwood in the King George Qatar Stakes.

He went for home too early in the Kings Stand at Ascot earlier in June when passed by Godolphin's Blue Point, before being much below-par at York in the Nunthorpe in August on a track that just simply does not agree with him.

The son of Dark Angel could only manage fourth in the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp in October - a race he won as a three-year-old, but trainer Charlie Hills believes that he has found the key to getting the speedball back to his brilliant best.

Known for his vibrant attitude and his quirky characteristics, Hills revealed that his gelding has been behaving well at home and with his training, pleasing all with his outward appearance and his performances on the gallops.

Battaash has always been known to be frantic on the way to the start of a race or in the stalls themselves - particularly on the Knavesmire where he has fluffed his lines twice.

The Lambourn-based trainer is excited for the campaign ahead.

(Credit: Racing Post) Speaking on Sunday, he said: “I was never 100 per cent happy with him last year. He didn’t look at his best in his coat at any point but he still won a couple and showed up really well in his other races, so it was far from a bad season.

“When he’s at his best he’s very good – and he showed that at times last season – but it might be that he just lacked an edge.

"He’s training well now and putting his efforts in the right direction, so we’re really looking forward to getting him back on Saturday," he said.

As a three-year-old, Battaash strung together an array of scintillating performances - including two at Sandown Park, drawing similarities with the owner Hamdan Al Maktoum's other great five-furlong sprinter Dayjur.

However, apart from demolishing his rivals for a second time at Goodwood under retained rider Jim Crowley, Battaash failed to reach the same heights as the season before, being beaten as the favourite or second favourite in the three of his other four starts last term.

Hills continued: “As a three-year-old he took on the older horses and had a hard season and that might have affected him a bit more than we realised. It can happen with horses that they almost miss a season and then come back the next year as good as, if not better, than before.

“We’ve been very fortunate that Dane O’Neill [second rider for Sheikh Hamdan] has been in to ride him in a lot of his work this spring and Jim came in to sit on him for his last piece and that’s put him spot on.

"Jim’s very happy with him, as am I", he finished.

The sprinting division looks one to saviour going forward this term, with the likes of Blue Point, Kachy and Mabs Cross all having either sensational winters or remarkable runs on return when carrying penalties.