Wesley Ward is anticipating a “great race” between last year’s winner Lady Aurelia and the new kid on the sprinting block Battaash in the King’s Stand Stakes.
Having also won the Queen Mary two years ago, Lady Aurelia is chasing a Royal Ascot hat-trick, some going for a horse based in America.
However, this appears her toughest task to date, as she is carrying 5lb more than 12 months ago and faces a sprinter at the top of his game in Battaash.
“She’s bucking and kicking, which is just what you want to see as she’ll need to be every bit as good as she ever was to get the job done again,” said Ward.
“She loves it here and she thrives here. She’s doing great.
“This is horse racing. She’s a bit older than Battaash, who is a gelding. It should be a great race and that’s what racing is all about.”
Charlie Hills has already had one top-class sprinter through his hands in his short career in Muhaarar and now has another with Battaash, whose only disappointment last year came when he boiled over in the Nunthorpe Stakes.
His victory in the Prix de l’Abbaye marked him down as an exceptional prospect and plans are in place to prevent a repeat of what happened at York.
“We’re very pleased with him. He had to do it the hard way at Haydock and probably just got a little bit tired in the last 50 yards,” said Hills of his comeback win.
“He had a nice quiet week after that and seems to have freshened up nicely.
“We’ll try to go down nice and quiet and go down last, like he did at Chantilly and Haydock.”
Tim Glyshaw has brought Bucchero over from America and the long-distance journey has had no ill effect.
“He is very cool and calm and nothing bothers him. When we shipped him out to the Breeders’ Cup, it didn’t bother him at all, nor did the 100,000 people that were there on Kentucky Oaks day,” said Glyshaw.
“His stall speed away from the gate is a little bit slower than it was in his younger years and that has dictated his running style, as he used to go wire to wire whenever he ran.
“I think he’s a really good long shot with a chance of hitting the boards at a big price.”
Charlie Appleby drops Blue Point in trip after he cut no ice in Hong Kong when he was last seen. He was a good third in the Commonwealth Cup last season.
“Dropping back to five furlongs will be within Blue Point’s compass, I think. He was disappointing in Hong Kong, where we tried to take them on at their own game and race up on the pace, which didn’t work,” said Appleby.
“He had a bit of a torrid journey home as well, so he had a nice break since then and the last two weeks I couldn’t have been any happier with him. He really is pleasing us.”
He added: “Blue Point seems to love Ascot – he has won two races there and was third in the Commonwealth, so it is a course and a track that he is very comfortable at. Coming back to five furlongs will also suit him as they will go hard up front and he will come into the race at the right time.”
Michael Dods has looked after some smart sprinters in recent years, including dual Nunthorpe winner Mecca’s Angel.
This season Mabs Cross has developed into a very smart filly and she was last seen flashing home into fourth in the Temple Stakes behind Battaash.
“She’s improving with every race and we think a stiff five furlongs at Ascot should really suit her,” said Dods.
“She hit the line really hard at Haydock, and has done in all her races this season, so that uphill climb to the line will be ideal.”
Aidan O’Brien runs Washington DC, Different League, Battle Of Jericho and Declarationofpeace.