Battaash ready for Royal Ascot tilt
Trainer Charlie Hills believes Battaash is ready to make it back-to-back victories in the King's Stand Stakes on the opening day of Royal Ascot, despite his limited preparations for Tuesday's race.
After finishing runner up in both the 2018 and 2019 renewals, the Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned seven-year-old was finally able to break his duck at the Berkshire track with victory in last year's King's Stand and he has since gone on to a record a fourth win in Goodwood's King George Stakes and a second in the Nunthorpe at York.
However, the sprinter has not been seen since the latter of those victories last August after suffering a setback over the winter, which means he will be making his seasonal reappearance on Tuesday. That has raised concerns that Battaash will not be up to full speed during his defence of the King's Stand, but Hills has been quick to play down those suggestions.
"Battaash came in a couple of weeks later than usual this year, so we were never going to fit in a prep run, but I couldn't be happier with him," the Lambourn handler told Sky Sports. "We've taken our time, and he hasn't missed a beat."
Gosden coy regarding Palace Pier's chances
Palace Pier is the heavy favourite to win the opening race at Royal Ascot this year, but trainer John Gosden is cautious when assessing the four-year-old's chances in Tuesday's Queen Anne Stakes.
The Kingman colt burst onto the Group One scene at Royal Ascot last year when delivering an impressive victory in the St James's Palace Stakes and he followed that up with another top-level success in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville.
The four-year-old then lost his unbeaten record when finishing third in October's Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot, but successive wins this year, most recently in last month's Lockinge at Newbury, has raised expectation levels once again.
Gosden is not getting carried away though, as he knows Tuesday's renewal of the Queen Anne will be far from straightforward.
"Yes, it was (a wow performance at Newbury), (but) I've got to be clear that he did handle the ground and maybe a horse like Lope Y Fernadez did not," Gosden told reporters. "Now we are back on summer ground, you'll see a lot more horses come into play."
Blackmore set for Royal Ascot bow
Grand National winning jockey Rachael Blackmore will make her bow at Royal Ascot on Tuesday when she rides the Emmet Mullins-trained Cape Gentleman in the Ascot Stakes.
Blackmore made history when she became the first female jockey to win the Grand National by guiding Minella Times home in April and she is more readily associated with the National Hunt code.
The same can be said for Cape Gentleman, who is a two-time winner over hurdles, but prior to his introduction to jumping he did register a victory in last year's Irish Cesarewitch and Mullins is hopeful regarding the five-year-old's chances at Royal Ascot.
"We're very excited about him, fingers crossed he'll run a good race," Mullins told reporters.
No Royal Ascot run for Glass Slippers
Glass Slippers will not feature in Saturday's Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot after suffering a minor setback.
Last year's Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner had initially been expected to run in Tuesday's King's Stand Stakes, but connections instead opted to aim her at the Diamond Jubilee.
However, the five-year-old was not included as one of the 16 confirmations for the Group One, with trainer Kevin Ryan revealing she suffered a setback during her final piece of work and will instead now be aimed at the King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
"Unfortunately, she pulled a muscle in her last piece of work," Ryan was quoted as saying by the Racing Post. "It's something of nothing and we'll give her an easy ten days and we'll probably aim her at Goodwood."