‘I’m going to get a tattoo of him’: meet the groom who looks after one of the world’s most famous horses

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  • Winning racehorse Battaash used to be boisterous and rather a handful at the racecourse, according to his trainer Charlie Hills. However, the six-year-old has matured into the ultimate professional. Having won a Group One at Royal Ascot, he dominated at Glorious Goodwood with a Group Two victory, winning his fourth consecutive King George Stakes. He is considered one of the fastest five-furlong sprinters in the world, and this year smashed his own track record at Goodwood.

    The son of Dark Angel is now fondly seen walking slowly around the pre-parade ring for his groom Bob Grace, who despite having a bit of a limp now is still eager to be leading up on racedays, having worked for the Hills family for over 30 years.

    “I have looked after Battaash since he arrived in the yard as a two-year-old. Viktoria Gatu rides him every day at home, but I lead him up at the races and look after him in the stable,” Bob tells H&H. “He used to be difficult to lead up, but now I have got used to his ways and we stick to the same routine at the racecourse.

    “He’s a diamond horse and I love him to bits. He doesn’t owe us anything and we’ve enjoyed great days with him, he would be among the best I’ve ever looked after. He goes out in the first lot every morning with Viktoria and then I will take him for a pick of grass later on in the day – he enjoys getting out into the sunshine. If I take another horse out for grass and he can see, he’ll be there kicking at his door. I do spoil him with carrots – he could eat all day long if he was allowed.”

    Bob is now hoping that Battaash can make it a consecutive five wins in the King George next year.

    “It’s a great job and an honour,” he said on a video courtesy of Great British Racing. “There is a pressure to get it right on raceday – there are many people who put a lot of work into these horses and one thing going wrong can mess up all of that work.

    “The best part of racing is when you’re back home, you’re done and it’s all worked out – you can sit in the bath with a beer and think ‘that was a great day’. I’m planning on getting a tattoo of Battaash when I turn 60.”

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