Saturday, 13th Jun 2020
Battaash has plenty in hand on his rivals, so can make it third time lucky in the 5f Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes on the opening day of Royal Ascot on Tuesday (15:35).
Charlie Hills’ stable star is 7lbs and upwards clear of the 11-runner field on adjusted ratings. He has also only found the now retired Blue Point too good in this sprint in the last two years.
As Battaash has a brilliant record of four wins from four on his first outing of the campaign, he is a worthy favourite here.
A triple winner of the King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, he followed-up on his hat-trick there with Group 1 glory in the Nunthorpe at York’s Ebor Festival last summer.
The six-year-old Dark Angel gelding was scintillating on the Knavesmire that day. A repeat of that effort makes Battaash very hard to beat in the King’s Stand Stakes.
He proved doubters wrong at York, so can do so again at Ascot. The odds on offer for Battaash reflect his chances, though.
The next best on last year’s race form is stable companion Equilateral. Owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah of Juddmonte Farms, he was seventh 12 months ago.
Equilateral has won two of his five subsequent starts, however. This five-year-old Equiano gelding landed Listed contests at Doncaster last autumn and out in the Middle East at Meydan this year.
There is 15lb to find with Battaash on official ratings, however, so the King’s Stand Stakes demands a career best from Equilateral.
Prix de l’Abbaye heroine Glass Slippers looks the bigger danger. Trained by Kevin Ryan, the four-year-old Dream Ahead filly has won five of her 12 career starts.
Glass Slippers ended last season with a hat-trick after making rapid progress through the grades in France. After landing a Listed contest at Deauville by a short-head, she followed-up with Group 3 success by a short-neck.
As Glass Slippers then ran her best race with a three-length romp in the Abbaye on Arc weekend at Longchamp, she is respected. She has needed runs in previous seasons to bring her fitness on, however, but feared most.
A 3lb sex allowance from Battaash is handy, but still leaves Glass Slippers with 7lb to find. At the weights, she looks an obvious forecast choice.
Getting weight all-round, meanwhile, is Liberty Beach – the sole three-year-old in the line-up.
Trained by John Quinn, the Cable Boy filly landed back-to-back black type races last summer at Sandown and Glorious Goodwood.
Those successes followed a fine fourth in the Queen Mary Stakes over this course and distance at the royal meeting 12 months ago.
Liberty Beach was an impressive winner of the Dragon Stakes and then followed-up in the Molecomb. She prevailed by a length over Alligator Alley in the latter despite being denied a clear run approaching the final furlong.
The runner-up won next time out, so the form isn’t too shabby. Liberty Beach was then a gallant second in the Group 2 Lowther Stakes at York when beaten just three-quarters of a length.
She has come out and won this season too. That came the weekend before last in the Listed 6f Cecil Frail Stakes at Haydock, where she only needed riding out for a three-quarters of a length victory over Queen Jo Jo.
The King’s Stand Stakes demands more, but getting 6lb and upwards from the field is a huge plus. Liberty Beach is therefore well worth an each-way wager and should make the frame in a renewal lacking last year’s depth.