THE PLANNED DEFENCE of his 5f Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes crown at Royal Ascot is seemingly in some doubt after it was revealed Battaash picked up an injury while wintering at Shadwell. The 7yo gelded son of Dark Angel has thus not yet returned to trainer Charlie Hills having sustained a small fracture over the winter, however he is back cantering and is expected to return to Hills in a matter of weeks.

“He just had a tiny little fracture in a joint during the winter and we’ve had to give him plenty of time off. He’s had a pin put in it,” said Angus Gold, Shadwell’s racing manager. “He’s been back cantering for five weeks now and he seems fine at the moment and we will give him two more weeks cantering there and then, all being well, he will go back into training at that stage.

Obviously the horse’s welfare is our main concern. “He’ll be a month later going into training than normal, but Sheikh Hamdan did say to try him again as long as he was sound. Because he is going back in later than normal, it’s not guaranteed he’ll get to Royal Ascot. “Hopefully he will, but we will see how he goes when he gets back in. He’s seven years old and we need to make sure he’s in one piece.”