Trainer Charlie Hills has billed his stable star Battaash’s head-to-head with Lady Aurelia in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York as “what racing is all about”.
The pair have lit up the sprinting scene in 2017 with some superlative performances and now they are on schedule to clash in the £350,000 G1 on the Knavesmire on Friday 25 August.
The American ace Lady Aurelia, trained by Wesley Ward, put up a sensational display to land the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot. Battaash, owned by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, has emerged as the leading British-trained speedster this season with three emphatic victories, earning an official rating of 122.
Two of those successes came at over the same five-furlong trip as the York contest, though both were at Sandown. The second, in G3 company, saw him smash the course record.
His Sandown wins were both recorded on top of the ground but the 3-year-old has subsequently proved that he handles soft underfoot conditions when taking the G2 King George Stakes at the Qatar Goodwood Festival a week ago.
Hills has been pleased with his charge since that success and is relishing the prospect of taking him to the Knavesmire in two weeks’ time. He said: “Battaash has come out of his win at Goodwood really well and we are looking forward to York now.
“He isn’t a horse who a needs a lot of work between his races so it is a case of ticking him over and keeping him in good form. I am happy with him. We were obviously delighted with his performance at Goodwood. He showed that he goes on any ground and beat a number of very good horses.
“It is not going to be easy at York. Lady Aurelia is obviously very good, but there are plenty of other top sprinters in there too. Clashes like this are what racing is all about and we are looking forward to it.”
The Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes is sure to be one of the highlights of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival. Other likely participants include G1 winners Marsha, Profitable and Goldream.
The Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival runs from Wednesday August 23 to Saturday August 26 inclusive.