Charlie Hills hopes Royal Ascot gets the green light as he takes aim with star-sprinter Battaash

THERE was a glimmer of light for Flat fans as Battaash stepped back into life at Charlie Hills's.

The star sprinter is back in Lambourn as he prepares for another season and another shot at further Group 1 glory.

He was well beat on his final start in France at the back-end of last season, but his trainer expects another season of big targets and reports his stable star in top nick.

Hills said: "Battaash came back in a couple of days ago and he looks great. He is a little bit hairy on his belly, but he is looking really strong and I couldn't be more pleased with him.

"He has had two canters since being back and is moving well, it is all systems go again with him for another season.

"I think the ground and the draw didn't help him in France. He never picked up a leg and you could see after half a furlong out that would be the result, but before that he had been getting better as the season had gone on."

Before his below-par effort in France, Battaash had previously produced one of the performances of the Flat season when laying to rest his York ghost to make it third time lucky in the Nunthorpe Stakes – a performance which Hills hopes he can repeat this year.

He said: "He was amazing at York and it was a terrific day. He really showed what a superstar he is that day. It would be nice to go back there and do it again, it will be one of his big targets.

"I just couldn't believe why York wouldn't suit him – it is one of the fastest tracks in the country and he is one of the fastest horses around, so I couldn't understand why he had never shown up there before.

"He is so good mid-race and that is when he really went out and left them, but at the end of the day he is just a very fast horse."

With his King's Stand Stakes conqueror of the previous two seasons Blue Point now at stud, Hills hopes Battaash can finally gain a first Royal Ascot success by going one place better than the previous two years in the Group 1, provided racing in Britain has resumed by June.

He added: "It is hard to know when we will be up and running, but he would probably go to Haydock again for the Temple first, failing that he would go straight to Royal Ascot.

"Going to Ascot is very much on the agenda as if you take Blue Point out of equation, and he won't be there this year, he would have won the race twice.

"We have got a long year ahead with him and the races fit in well so we are looking forward to getting going again."


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