ROYAL ASCOT 2020: Third time lucky for brilliant Battaash with Goodwood and Breeders' Cup on horizon

Finally! Trainer Charlie Hills celebrates Battaash's win in the Kings Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot
Finally! Trainer Charlie Hills celebrates Battaash's win in the Kings Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot

Charlie Hills has experienced every emotion with his stable star Battaash - but the winning feeling is best, writes James Toney.

The Lambourn trainer knows what a Royal Ascot groan sounds like, now he's experienced a roar - even if no-one was around to hear it.

Speedster Battaash has twice finished a runner-up in the 'blink and you'll miss it' King's Stand Stakes, part of the Qipco British Champion Series.

But every horse has his day - and this was finally his. 

In the absence of Blue Point, who has twice edged him out in this five furlong thriller, he blasted away rivals to win in style - with Glorious Goodwood next in his sights and a potential crack at the Breeders’ Cup the long-term ambition.

And Hills could barely contain his joy at his third time lucky, with jockey Jim Crowley riding the rollercoaster in an electric display.

"I've lived every emotion with him now. We have been beaten here twice before and, three times, I don't think I could have dealt with that," said Hills.

"Battaash is just an amazing horse. Everyone in the yard is so lucky to have a horse like him - he is the horse of a lifetime. It is not just that, but also the character he has at home.

"We always think his ace card from the two to the one-furlong pole is that he can get horses off the bridle and he gets them all going whilst he is still cruising. Battaash is a very hard horse to beat when he is like that.

"He was really on his 'A' game. He was beautifully relaxed before the race and as soon as the gates opened you could see he was going to be very hard to beat."

Elsewhere it was a family affair for William Muir, who trained his second Royal Ascot winner, 18 years after his first.

Martin Dwyer, who is Muir's son in law, took the ride on Pyledriver in the King Edward VII Stakes, where Aidan O'Brien's big Derby fancy Mogul failed to deliver at the shortest price of the day.

And now he's dreaming of Classic glory at Epsom, with owners hinting they were ready to splash the cash on a supplementary entry to take their chance,

"I suppose we will have to think about the Derby," said Muir. 

"We have got two weeks and a bit longer. He's had an easy run there today - he has gone round in the slip-stream and just picked up. 

"I thought we would run a big race, but there were one or two horses in here that were well-touted, well-talked about. Aidan O'Brien said that Mogul was probably his best Derby hope."

Crowley enjoyed a day to remember as he banked three winners, with Motakhayyel and Nazeef winning the Buckingham Palace Handicap and Duke of Cambridge Stakes respectively.

"Three winners at Royal Ascot is pretty special," he said. "It's a shame I didn't get to hear that crowd but it I'm not complaining.

"Battaash felt really big today - that was redemption and we've got that unfinished business out the way."