Tuesday 13 June 2017

Charlie Hills: Blink and You’ll Miss Him

Charles, or ‘Charlie’, Hills is the son of former trainer Barry Hills and the brother of the twins, Michael and Richard Hills, both former jockeys. Having worked as assistant to his father for eight years, Charlie took over the training licence at Faringdon Place in Lambourn, Berkshire in 2011.

Charlie made a dream start to his training career, saddling a winner with his first runner, Blaise Chorus, in a maiden at Kempton in August of the same year. A month later, he trained his first Group winner, Ransom Note in the Group 2 Nayef Joel Stakes at Newmarket and, less than two years later, his first Classic winner, Just The Judge, in the Irish 1,000 Guineas.

Charlie Hills has developed a fine reputation for handling sprinters, so it’s probably no coincidence that two of the best horses he has trained, so far, have been progressive young speedsters. In 2015, he trained Muharrar, a three-year-old colt by Oasis Dream, to win the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, the July Cup at Newmarket, the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville and British Champions Sprint Stakes back at Ascot on Champions Day. Muharrar – described by his trainer as “the best I’ve trained” – became the first three-year-old sprinter to win four races at the highest level in a single season and, in so doing, achieved a Timeform Rating of 132.

In 2017, Battaash, a three-year-old colt by the excellent young sire Dark Angel, emerged as a new sprinting star. Battaash smashed the course record time when sweeping his rivals aside in the Sprint Stakes at Sandown in July and was equally impressive when following up in King George Stakes at Goodwood the following month. Following the latter performance, winning jockey Jim Crowley said, “I never felt like I was in trouble at any stage. He has so much natural speed. I don't think I've ridden a better sprinter.”

Battaash could keep on at one pace to finish fourth, beaten 5¼ lengths, behind Marsha in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York but, back on soft ground, took his revenge in no uncertain terms at Chantilly in October. Sent off favourite for the Prix de l’Abbaye, Battaash made just about all the running to win, unchallenged, by 4 lengths. Battaash achieved a Timeform Rating of 136 to top the Timeform Global Rankings for 2017 alongside Champion Stakes winner Cracksman. Battaash has reportedly wintered well and is already in light exercise ahead of his intended reappearance in the Temple Stakes at Haydock in May, all being well.

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