UK RACING – ROYAL ASCOT: Battaash finally crowned Ascot’s king sprinter at third attempt

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Jockey Jim Crowley rides Battaash to victory in The King's Stand Stakes on day one of the Royal Ascot horse racing meet, in Ascot, west of London, on June 16, 2020, which is taking place behind 'closed doors' due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic. - Royal Ascot got underway on Tuesday despite being behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) – Battaash put two years of near misses behind him as he took the King’s Stand Stakes at the third time of asking on the opening day of Royal Ascot on Tuesday (June 16).

Jockey Jim Crowley and trainer Charlie Hills had found Blue Point too good in the past two runnings but with him retired Battaash put his 10 rivals to the sword.

It was the 5/6 favourite’s 11th career win and Hills also had the satisfaction of training the second Equilateral.

Liberty Beach filled third spot.

“He was really on his A game today I could tell he was going to be very hard to beat,” said Hills.

“I am looking forward to going back to Goodwood to win the King George for a fourth time.”

Crowley said that the early part of the race he was battling to restrain Battaash’s enthusiasm in case he wore himself out.

“Obviously it is his first run this season and he is fresh,” said Crowley.

“I was merely a passenger early on and trying to save something for the finish.

“It is nice to make it third time lucky.”

Crowley — champion jockey in 2016 — said his rivals faced a season of heartbreak.

“He is showing no signs of slowing down that is for sure,” said the 34-year-old.

“He has so much speed I would love to have a tow in races but it is just not happening.”

For his veteran lad ‘Big Bob’ Grace Battaash’s win was also a first for him at Royal Ascot.

“I have been in the business for 38 years and prior to today had no Royal Ascot winners,” he said.

“He brought his A game today.

“No one can beat him we have finally done it!”