Royal Ascot day one: Third time lucky for Battaash, while his jockey enjoys a treble plus there’s a surprise 18/1 winner

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  • Jim Crowley enjoyed a treble in the saddle on the opening day (Tuesday, 16 June) of Royal Ascot, which is being held behind closed doors this year, including a Group One win on Battaash.

    The jockey’s first win of the day came aboard the Richard Hannon-trained Motakhayyel in the Buckingham Palace Handicap, before he steered the favourite Battaash to victory in the King’s Stand Stakes.

    The six-year-old gelding, who is trained by Charlie Hills, now has 11 wins under his belt. But it was third time lucky for the son of Dark Angel in the Group One five-furlong highlight, having finished runner-up to Blue Point in 2018 and 2019.

    Owned and bred by Hamdan Al Maktoum, Battaash never looked in any serious danger today as he blasted away to win by 2¼ lengths from stablemate Equilateral.

    “He was really on his ‘A’ game today,” said Charlie. “He was beautifully relaxed before the race and as soon as the gates opened you could see he was going to be very hard to beat.

    “Obviously, we will have to speak with Sheikh Hamdan, but I am really looking forward to going back to Goodwood to try and win the King George there for the fourth time – I think that would be some achievement to do that.”

    Jim added: “I had to hold him for two furlongs, he was on a bit of a going day and wanting to charge off. My only concern was to try to get the fractions right on him because obviously he was quite keen today. There was nothing quick enough to lead him, and I wanted to save enough for the finish, which worked out. Every time he wins, it feels special because when he wins, he wins well.

    “I would say he’s number one in my career. He is one of the best sprinters in recent years – he has so much natural talent.”

    Jim concluded a brilliant day in the saddle with a third victory on Nazeef in the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes, for trainer John Gosden.

    Trainer Aidan O’Brien and jockey Ryan Moore teamed up to claim the Group One Queen Anne Stakes with favourite Circus Maximus.

    The four-year-old won the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2019. Today, the son of Galileo had to battle hard in the final furlong, coming out on top by a head from Terebellum. The pair drew right away from the rest of the field, with Marie’s Diamond three lengths away in third.

    Aidan was recording his 71st Royal Ascot success and said: “We were delighted with that performance. Circus Maximus is very tough, he travels with a lot of speed, then quickens and then toughs it out – it was unbelievable and Ryan gave him an unbelievable ride, we are delighted.”

    There was a surprise win in the Group Two King Edward VII Stakes when 18/1 shot Pyledriver saw off his rivals over a mile and a half.

    The William Muir-trained son of Harbour Watch is now a live contender for the Derby at Epsom on 4 July.

    It was a second Royal Ascot success for the winning trainer, 18 years after Zargus landed the Balmoral Handicap and an eighth for jockey Martin Dwyer, who is William’s son-in-law.

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