Charlie Hills keen for Battaash return

Charlie Hills is excited ahead of Battaash’s seasonal reappearance in the Armstrong Aggregates Temple Stakes at Haydock on Saturday.

The Lambourn trainer feels the timing between the Group Two on Merseyside and his first Group One target, the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, is perfect as he plots a new campaign for Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s four-year-old gelding.

The speedy son of Dark Angel enjoyed an excellent end to 2017 by blitzing the opposition in the Prix de l’Abbaye at Chantilly in October.

“I’m looking forward to it. We’ve had no hold-ups with him. He’s a fairly easy horse to train. He’s straightforward and forward going,” Hills told Racing UK.

“I’m happy with his mindset. I’m just looking forward to getting him back on the racecourse now.

“I like the time frame between the Temple Stakes and Royal Ascot. Obviously, Royal Ascot is the main target. He’s quite a fresh horse, so it’s quite important we give him a run before the King’s Stand and the Temple is the ideal race.

“He’s obviously got a penalty and there are some fast horses in the race. Take Cover is a very quick horse as a few others are. It’s not going to be straight forward, but it’s just nice to get him back on the racecourse.”

Battaash will be ridden by Dane O’Neill as Sheikh Hamdan’s number one jockey Jim Crowley will be at the Curragh to partner Elarqam for the owner in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas.

“Dane’s ridden him more times than Jim,” said Hills.

“He won on him twice last year, both times at Sandown. He obviously gets on with him well.

“He’s been down to ride him work last week and was happy with him.”