Baaeed will face eight rivals as William Haggas’ superstar returns to action in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.
The four-year-old, who was unraced at two, went from winning a maiden in June to landing the Prix du Moulin and Qipco-sponsored Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at the end of the season.
He is rated as one of the best horses in the world and all eyes will be on him as he gets his season under way.
His chief market rival is Aidan O’Brien’s Mother Earth, the winner of last year’s 1000 Guineas. She has the benefit of a run this season having won first time out in the Park Express Stakes.
Another classy filly last year was Andrew Balding’s Alcohol Free who has also had a run, having finished third in a Group Two at Sandown.
Saeed bin Suroor’s Real World is on something of a retrieval mission, as having made giant strides last season on turf he has disappointed the last twice on dirt in the Saudi Cup and Dubai World Cup.
New Mandate lines up for Ralph Beckett having got back to winning ways at Ascot last time out, while Sunray Major runs for John and Thady Gosden.
Richard Hannon runs both Chindit and Etonian, with Sir Bucker, ridden by Hollie Doyle, completing the field.
Jim Crowley, Baaeed’s regular rider, will be on board the unbeaten champion, as he was for a recent racecourse gallop at Chelmsford which reportedly went very well indeed.
“I was extremely happy with Baaeed at Chelmsford and I’m really looking forward to riding him again at Newbury. Horses like him don’t come around very often,” said Crowley.
“He’s up against two good fillies who are match fit (Alcohol Free and Mother Earth) as well as Real World, but he was a revelation last year.
“Palace Pier was an exceptional horse, so what Baaeed did on Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot was excellent, especially when you remember he hadn’t been on a racecourse until June.
“Hopefully he’s progressed again, although he probably wouldn’t need to have progressed too much on the figures.”
Danny Tudhope has been given the call-up to ride Real World, having won on him at the Dubai Carnival later in the year.
“You’d have to put a line through his two runs since on dirt as that’s a whole different game,” said Tudhope.
“He’s a different horse on grass and the Meydan win was his fifth in a row. If you excuse the dirt runs he’s a very good ride to have and one I’m looking forward to.”