Connections of Baaeed are taking nothing for granted ahead his latest bid for big-race glory in the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.
With 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes hero Coroebus missing from the field after suffering a setback, Baaeed’s task appears relatively straightforward.
The William Haggas-trained four-year-old was the 1-6 favourite when extending his unbeaten record to eight in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot last month and is expected to be similar odds on Wednesday.
But Angus Gold, racing manager for owners Shadwell, is not counting his chickens before they hatch, referencing Pyledriver’s surprise King George success as evidence that anything can happen.
He said: “I’m very sorry for connections of Coroebus and it’s a real shame for the race, obviously. To not have the best of the miling three-year-olds around is a real shame, but there we go.
“Baaeed is obviously going to be a very short price and it’s nice to be in that position in one way as it means you’ve got a good horse, but there’s only one way that can go!
“We just hope he turns up in good form. As far as I know everything is good, he worked very nicely last week and I think they’ve been happy since, so you can but hope.
“There’s some very good horses in the race and as we saw in the King George on Saturday, you can never take anything for granted.”
One factor Baaeed’s team do not need to worry about is the undulating track, with the son of Sea The Stars having proven himself over the course and distance in the Thoroughbred Stakes 12 months ago.
“He’s won there and he’s a well-balanced horse,” Gold added.
“It’s possibly not his ideal track, but you could say that about a lot of them, so I don’t see that as a reason for him not to win if he’s in good form and gets a good run through the race.”
All going well, the next step for Baaeed will be a first outing over a mile and a quarter in the Juddmonte International at York on August 17.
“That’s what we’d like to do if he was to win on Wednesday and as long as he comes out of it one piece – that’s the crucial thing,” Gold confirmed.
“It won’t just be whether he wins or not, it will be the next 10 days to see how he seems after it, but as long as he’s in good shape that would be the idea anyway.
“He’s done all his winning at a mile and he’s shown he’s got the speed and the class to win Group Ones at a mile. For me, it’s going to be more interesting to see whether he can be versatile and carry that speed over a mile and a quarter.
“I know William felt it was too big a gap between Ascot and York and as he rightly said, they’re here to race these horses, so that’s why he’s going to Goodwood.”
Baaeed is 8lb clear on official ratings, which is quite an achievement considering he is up against several Group One winners.
One of his biggest threats appears to be last year’s winner Alcohol Free, who returns to defend her crown in the Qipco British Champions Series contest off the back of winning the July Cup at Newmarket.
“It took her a couple of runs to find her feet this year, but she’s in great form and she looks very well,” said trainer Andrew Balding.
“She won the race last year and while this looks a very strong renewal, it wasn’t a bad one when she beat Poetic Flare.
“She comes here off the back of a really good win over six furlongs in the July Cup, so we are looking forward to it.”
When asked if he felt Alcohol Free can beat Baaeed, Balding added: “At Goodwood it’s not always enough to be the best horse as you need luck too. We wouldn’t want to win that way, but it’s a horse race at the end of the day.”
Aidan O’Brien’s Breeders’ Cup Mile hero Order Of Australia could finish only fifth behind Alcohol Free 12 months ago, but the Ballydoyle handler is expecting a better showing on Wednesday.
The Australia entire displayed his well-being when winning the Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh for a second time less than a fortnight ago.
O’Brien said: “He won nicely the last day at the Curragh and is in good form.
“He won the same race last year before the Sussex, but then at Goodwood it was a bit soft for him. It will be better ground this year hopefully and that will suit him.”
In the absence of Coroebus, Charlie Appleby relies on French 2000 Guineas winner Modern Games, who since his Classic success has finished third in the French Derby and fifth in the Prix Jean Prat.
“The step back up in trip is going to suit him, and the quick ground will also be in his favour. He loves it rattling fast,” Appleby told the Godolphin website.
“He’s a very classy colt, he’s a multiple Group One winner, and a sharp track such as Goodwood will pose no problem when you recall how he handled Del Mar (when winning at the Breeders’ Cup).
“He will give a good account of himself.”
Japan’s Godolphin Mile winner Bathrat Leon (Yoshito Yahagi), Chindit (Richard Hannon) and Angel Bleu (Ralph Beckett) complete the line-up.