Tuesday 19 June, 3:40 – Royal Ascot – 5f King’s Stand Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Class 1) (3yo+)

The King’s Stand Stakes is now the premier 5 furlong race at the Royal Meeting and is open to horses aged three years old and upwards. However, the event was born out of a set of very strange circumstances. At the Royal meeting in 1860 heavy rain has made it impossible to run the Royal Stand Plate over its normal distance of 2 miles, so it was shortened to 5 furlongs to take advantage of the only race-able part of the course. This amended version of the race was called the Queen’s Stand Plate. For a while it was open to all age groups and its name was changed to the present King’s Stand Stakes following the accession of King Edward VII in 1901.

When the current system of race grading was introduced in 1971 the race was granted Group 1 status but was downgraded to Group 2 level in 1988. The race became part of the Global Sprint Challenge in 2005 and consequently attracted high class sprinters from around the globe and its status was therefore raised to Group 1 again in 2008.

It is very difficult to pick an age trend for the race as in the last 25 renewals three year olds have won five times, four year olds four times, five year olds five times, six year olds eight times and seven year olds three times. However, in the last 12 renewals the race has been won by five to seven year olds eight times.

The draw has not been a significant factor and as it is the first sprint of the week there is not any current draw bias to be considered.

Typically in a sprint, the betting is not a totally reliable guide to finding the winner as just seven of the last 12 winners have come from the first three in the betting with just two favourites winning over the same period.

However, winning form earlier in the season is a much more significant factor as nine of the last 12 winners had won earlier in the season, and 12 of the last 13 winners finished in the first two on their last starts. Overall form over the 5 furlong trip is a reasonable pointer with eight of the last 12 winners having at least four wins over the trip and nine of the last 12 winning at least twice over 5 furlongs. Previous course form is a ‘good to have’ as five winners had previously won at least once over the course and six winners had previously run at least twice at Ascot.

An Official Rating of at least 111 has been required to win the race in eight of the last 12 renewals and horses with at least one win at Group 1 level have won seven of the last 12 times, while on 10 of the last 12 occasions horses with winning form in Groups 1 to 3 have prevailed 10 times.

The Charles Hills trained Battaash has good claims. The four year old Bay gelding won the Group 2 Temple Stakes at Haydock on his last start and since 1990 six winners of the Temple Stakes have followed up in this race. Battaash, who was the runaway winner of the Prix de l’Abbeye last October, looked like he needed the run as he was slowly away in the Temple Stakes. However, he was soon in mid division and although he still had 2 lengths to make up inside the final furlong he ran on well to lead inside the final 25 yards to win by a head.

He has been known in the past to be rather unpredictable before his races but appeared much calmer at Haydock and running off a mark of 123 looks to have a very good chance of following up at Royal Ascot. Jim Crowley is in the saddle and in three runs together the pair have won twice, the Group 1 Prix de l’Abbeye and the Group 2 King George Stakes at Goodwood by a combined distance of 6¼ lengths.

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