Connections of brilliant miler Baaeed insist they are not looking beyond the Juddmonte International at York.
Under Jim Crowley, the Shadwell-owned son of Sea The Stars took his tally to nine unbeaten, with a fifth consecutive Group One victory in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood on Wednesday.
Trainer William Haggas is now planning to run the supremely classy colt a trip in excess of a mile for the first time, with the August 17 mile-and-a-quarter test on the Knavesmire the intended target.
Baaeed was a late bloomer, not starting his career until June of his three-year-old campaign. He quickly established himself as a major force, winning twice at the highest level last autumn – with victories in the Prix du Moulin at ParisLongchamp and the Queen Elizabeth II at Ascot.
Three more Group One successes have followed this term, with a silky-smooth length-and-three-quarters victory over Modern Games the latest of them.
Connections have stated Baaeed is likely to have two more runs before a career at stud awaits, with the Champion Stakes or QEII at Ascot the likely swansong. Asked whether the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe could yet be considered, Angus Gold, Shadwell’s long-standing racing manager, said there has been no talk within the camp of a trip to Paris.
“It has never been discussed,” said Gold. “The Arc is the greatest race in the world, without a shadow of a doubt, to me. We have never won an Arc in Shadwell colours. We won one with Sakhee in Godolphin colours and obviously it would be absolutely fantastic to win an Arc.
“Yet we are talking about two months (away) and we haven’t gone beyond a mile yet.”
Derby winner Desert Crown, ante-post favourite for the mile-and-a-half Arc on October 2, has all but been ruled out following a setback, seeing Baaeed cut to 10-1 following his Goodwood romp.
But Gold said: “Without wishing to sound rude, it is a pointless conversation until we’ve been a mile and a quarter.
“If he is running away at the end of a mile and a quarter, then maybe it (the Arc) can come into the equation.
“But as yet, we haven’t gone beyond a mile, so there is no point me saying the Arc is a possibility, because it hasn’t come into anybody’s mind as yet – and he is not entered, so he will have to be supplemented.”
Though there is a long-standing demand from breeders for speed-laden stallions, with middle-distance pedigrees often shunned, Gold feels Baaeed would only enhance his reputation should he win over further.
“From a breeding perspective, now he’s proved his class over a mile, I don’t think it would be a detriment if he went over a mile and a half,” said Gold.
“All it would prove is his versatility if he went a mile and a half. If he only went a mile and a half, then obviously it would probably be to his detriment.
“His full-brother (Hukum) stays a mile and three-quarters and has won a Group One over a mile and a half, and Baaeed is a relaxed horse on the whole.
“I, personally – and nothing is written in stone – would be surprised if he doesn’t stay a mile and a quarter.
“As for the extra two furlongs after that, I don’t know. He might have too much speed.
“But his sire was such a classy horse. He won a Guineas and he was able to win an Arc, having pulled his way through the first part of the race – and did everything to get beaten – and he was still too good.
“So, there is a chance this horse would stay a mile and a half.
“Sea The Stars went on from winning a Guineas to win over a mile and a half. They knew (he would stay) at that stage, whereas with this horse, we don’t know yet – and until we hopefully get to York, we won’t know whether he does definitely stay a mile and a quarter. It is only opinion, but personally, I would be very surprised if he doesn’t.
“It is all speculation at this stage, because he hasn’t been beyond a mile. Let’s get through York first – if we get there in one piece – see if he stays a mile and a quarter, and have the conversation (about an Arc) afterwards.
“At this stage, the plan has always been to go up to York. If he stays that well, we’d probably go for the Champion at Ascot unless somebody suddenly says, ‘Look, he’ll definitely get a mile and a half, why don’t we try an Arc?’. It is all pie in the sky at the moment.”