Royal Ascot 2020: Battaash’s groom and Bristol Rovers fan Bob Grace the day’s big winner

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After 38 years of trying, groom Bob Grace finally bagged a Royal Ascot winner when Battaash blitzed the field in the King’s Stand Stakes.

Charlie Hills’ employee watched on with pride as the six-year-old, runner-up in the race for the past two years, quickened away from stablemate Equilateral to take the spoils.

In front of just a handful of people watching on at the course, Bristol Rovers fan Grace led his all-the-way hero into the winners’ enclosure.

The 5/6 favourite’s Group One triumph was the highlight of a 118/1 treble on the day for jockey Jim Crowley.

Grace said beforehand that Ascot had never been his lucky track, as on his first trip a Jim Old-trained runner fell at the first hurdle and the meeting was abandoned on his second visit.

And for the last two renewals of Tuesday’s contest, he had the seconditis bug, as Battaash found Blue Point too hot to handle.

“38 years in racing, I’ve never had a winner at Ascot in any way shape or form,” he said in the build-up.

“If we are going to count how many (runners) I have had at Royal Ascot, there’s eight off the top off my head.

“I am completely convinced I’m a jinx on the place.”

After joking he would never return if Battaash didn’t win, he was thrilled to finally set the record straight.

“When he’s on his A-game we still don’t think there’s a horse that can beat him,” he said after the success.

“He hasn’t run bad here in his runs before today and now at last we have finally done it.”

Grace compared the success to his team, “the glorious Bristol Rovers,” winning promotion back to League Two from the 2014/15 play-off final.

Winning jockey Crowley, also in the winners’ enclosure on Motakhayyel (14/1) and Nazeef (100/30), said Battaash was keen as he stretched his seasonal debut-winning run to four.

“There was nothing quick enough to lead him and I was trying to save enough up our sleeve for the finish, which worked out,” he added.

“I was a little bit worried the stiff uphill finish might find him out but he’s a real superstar. He’s done the three now, with the Abbaye and Nunthorpe, and hopefully we’re not finished yet.”

Battaash was one of three winning favourites on the opening day.

Fans were quick to congratulate his jubilant groom, with one saying: “Bob Grace is a legend and a huge credit to racing. That is all.”

While another added: “Bob Grace is today’s winner.”

Two other well-supported runners in the seven races, Daarik and Mogul, failed to fire to the relief of bookmakers.

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