Tag Archive for: Baaeed

Baaeed ‘fresh’ following impressive Lockinge return

Baaeed has been given a clean bill of health following his romp in the Lockinge Stakes on Saturday and all roads now lead to Royal Ascot.

The unbeaten superstar, currently the highest-rated horse in the UK, returned to action at the weekend with a flawless performance at Newbury, stretching his perfect record to seven wins in as many outings.

Some have already hailed him as the best horse since Frankel and while trainer William Haggas insisted no Group One is ever a simple task, the ease with which he blew away quality opposition in the Lockinge means he is as short as the 1-3 favourite for the Queen Anne at Ascot.

“He seems fine, he’s very fresh. He was certainly a bit fresh this morning so everything is great,” said the in-form handler.

“You always have a race, there’s no such thing as an easy Group One, but he looked to win quite nicely, so it’s onwards and upwards. I just hope we can keep him fit and well, that’s the most important thing now.

“I hadn’t actually thought about the Queen Anne being the first race of the meeting, but it might help with getting it out of the way early (to calm the nerves) – mind, it will be a long week if that doesn’t go right!”

Monday Musings: Paging Richard’s Granny!

One early morning a few years ago in the days when I still bought a Racing Post rather than access the online version, my regular source did not have a copy, writes Tony Stafford. Not to be outdone I jumped in the car and made a stop at Tesco’s big store at Bromley-By-Bow in between Hackney Wick and Bow.

With only one till open I took my copy and, from memory, a BLT sandwich and went to pay. The senior lady with her full Cockney accent, looked and said: “Oh, you like racing? My grandson’s in racing. He’s a jockey. He’s Richard Kingscote!”

Now more normally you might expect to find grandparents of jockeys to have farms in Limerick or Wiltshire or to have ridden themselves. I doubt Grandma Kingscote – it could just as easily have been Piggott, Eddery or Buick but I think that unlikely - woke to the sounds of horses’ nostrils snorting in her early days which I guessed might have been, like mine, in the East End of London with bomb craters from World War II lingering still around every corner.

I mentioned that meeting to Richard soon after and wish I’d have gone into his heritage a little more. I bet granny wouldn’t have expected her grandson to have made the remarkable change in his source and scene of employment, so secure did the Michael Owen/Andrew Black/Tom Dascombe and Kingscote combination appear then and for a few years after.

Kingscote jumped first, moving south to pick up good rides from Newmarket stables, notably for Sir Michael Stoute, increasingly denied use of his long-term stable jockey Ryan Moore by his lucrative, Classic-bountiful Coolmore job.

Then Dascombe clearly got the tin-tack and he now operates with a team of 13 in Lambourn. Whether he can reinvigorate his career will be a serious challenge, though his interview on Luck On Sunday yesterday related that he’s up for it. All a jockey needs when forced to make a move is a saddle, a pair of boots, an agent and a car to take him to as many stables as he can to ride out and make an impression. Would-be trainers must (for starters) convince the BHA that they have the financial resources to set up and carry their (hopefully) growing business.

It helps if your dad was/is a trainer and he can help you along in the manner of a Crisford, Gosden, Johnston or even a Ferguson. So much more power then to the elbows of such as Boughey and Clover. George went close again yesterday when 1,000 Guineas heroine, Cachet, made a brave attempt to follow up in the French 1,000 at Longchamp, finishing second to the Mikel Delzangles-trained Mangoustine, ridden by the remarkable Gerald Mosse.

Half an hour later the Godolphin blue (Charlie Appleby brand) followed their Newmarket 2,000 one-two with Coroebus and Native Trail by sending out Modern Games under William Buick to win the counterpart French colts’ Classic.

Unraced since winning the hotly-contested Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar last November, the son of Dubawi came home strongly and adds his name to the already formidable team for the Boys in Blue in the major mile races.

They will still have to go some to match the year-older Baaeed in that division after the William Haggas four-year-old brought his tally to seven from seven when winning the Lockinge at Newbury. He started that career less than a year ago on the same course and looks set to be put right to the top of the official rankings after this display.

To be more accurate, Baaeed didn’t just win, he made mincemeat of a strong field of milers and the disdainful three-and-a-bit lengths by which he beat the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained runner-up Real World (a Coolmore-type sighter?) suggests even Classic form later in the season from the best of the younger generation will not be enough to stop him.

The big two power-houses are as strong as ever, but Baaeed’s trainer, William Haggas, is making ever more forceful strides in their pursuit and Baaeed was one of 13 winners for his Newmarket stable in the past fortnight. If you don’t enjoy backing short-priced favourites, never mind, just make sure you take your place early on day one at Royal Ascot when this potential world champion will be the stand-out in the Queen Anne Stakes.

But Richard Kingscote has matters more immediate on his mind after last week’s Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York. Riding Sir Michael Stoute’s Desert Crown on only his second racecourse appearance, he brought the Nathaniel colt home well clear of a strong field to clinch what is often the best of the Derby trials.

Ryan Moore was third in the race on the Galileo colt Bluegrass and that colt is sure to do better in time.  They were split by the Johnstons’ Royal Patronage who had run a reasonable race in the 2,000 Guineas, not far behind the principals having attempted to force the pace.

When Nathaniel made his racecourse debut at the Newmarket July meeting in the evening maiden race also chosen by Sir Henry Cecil for Frankel, both colts being by Galileo, there was only a half length between them at the line.

Frankel never lost a race; Nathaniel did, but also won plenty, including the King George and Eclipse at Group 1 level. He has been a great servant to Newsells Park stud where his fee for 2022 was only £15,000 but one eternal distinction is that his daughter Enable was probably the best filly to race in Europe in this century.

Now he could be getting his first Derby winner with a Tattersalls Book 2 purchase, admittedly bought for the respectable figure of 280,000gns. How this year’s Book 2 catalogue will celebrate him, Derby success or not!

Desert Crown has been brought along with typical patience by Sir Michael, who has five Epsom Derby winners to his credit, the last three since he was honoured by his home country Barbados for services unconnected to his profession. Ryan Moore rode the last of them, Workforce, in 2010 and was also on the Aidan O’Brien winner Ruler Of The World three years later.

The Derby can often throw up unexpected winning jockeys and you only have to go back to last year when Adam Kirby was the popular beneficiary of William Buick’s decision to ride third-placed Hurricane Lane, leaving Kirby to fill in on easy winner, Adayar.

O’Brien and Charlie Appleby between them have won the last five editions of the Blue Riband and only once has the stable first string been on the right one. That was Buick on Masar in 2018. Ryan has had to watch on from behind as first Padraig Beggy (on Wings Of Eagles), Seamie Heffernan on Anthony Van Dyck and, most recently, Emmet McNamara (Serpentine) won the spoils.

To think that Beggy and McNamara together have ridden as many Epsom Derby winners as the flawless Ryan Moore. As I mentioned last week, Ryan’s riding has been exemplary this season and I think we can expect a ride of supreme skill on Stone Age on June 4.

I have no idea whether Richard Kingscote’s grandma remains in good health. I hope she does and, even more fervently, that she has been gathered up by all the excitement that Richard will almost certainly be on the favourite that day; even more so that she can be there, because I’d love to meet her again!

One horse I would hope turns up on that day is Saturday’s stylish Newmarket sprint winner, Dusky Lord, who came through the eye of the proverbial needle to win the finale after a six-month absence.

I was happy to be representing part-owner Jonathan Barnett and, given the way in which he came through to make it three wins from six, I think this previous Brighton winner could win the Dash, a race I believe Raymond Tooth should have won with Catfish ten years ago.

The fact this remains the fastest-ever electronically-timed five-furlong race is a major achievement for John Best, who saddled the 50/1 winner Stone Of Folca to record a time of 53.69 seconds, which has never been beaten. That works out as an average speed for the entire trip of 41.9 miles per hour.

Catfish stayed on strongly after a tardy start to finish third in the big field, beaten for second by Andrew Balding’s Desert Law. But when Mikael Barzalona returned, he said: “She was unlucky. My saddle slipped at the start and the way she finished if I could have ridden her properly, I’m certain she would have won.”

David Egan reckoned after Saturday that Dusky Lord definitely needed the outing after his six-month absence. Now the Dash is back as a 100 grand race with half of that going to the winning owners. That’s worth going for, don’t you agree Roger?

- TS

‘Best since Frankel’ – riding giants salute Lockinge hero Baaeed

Lockinge-winning riders Mick Kinane and Philip Robinson have heaped praise on William Haggas’ Baaeed after he maintained his flawless record with a tremendous victory in the race on Saturday.

The Sea The Stars colt was imperious under Jim Crowley when brushing off a field of Group winners to stroll to a three-and-a-quarter-length success – his seventh in seven runs.

The triumph was enough to inspire tentative comparisons with the great Frankel, who won the Lockinge in 2012 on his way to an undefeated career that saw him head to stud as one of the greatest Flat horses of all time.

One such comparison was made by former jockey Philip Robinson, whose Lockinge victory aboard Rakti in 2005 still remains the fastest ever seen.

“He’s the best horse I’ve seen since Frankel, pure and simple,” he said of Baaeed.

Rakti and Philip Robinson (right) winning the Lockinge Stakes
Rakti and Philip Robinson (right) winning the Lockinge Stakes (Max Nash/PA)

“I’ve thought he’s a very good horse for some time and he was seriously impressive. I’ve been impressed with him before in all of his previous runs and it’s there to be seen now.

“How much he can do from here is anybody’s guess. He’s a lovely, lovely horse all round and he must be a pleasure to be involved with.

“I think one only comes along that’s as good as this about every 10 years.”

Mick Kinane steered Hawk Wing to a Lockinge victory considered by many to be one of the most impressive ever witnessed and the riding great is looking forward to seeing Baaeed tested both at Royal Ascot and potentially over a longer trip in the future.

“He looks a very exciting horse going forward. If he keeps on improving then he’s going to be very hard to beat through the year and you have to look forward to him running in the Queen Anne at Ascot,” he said.

Hawk Wing and Mick Kinane on their way to Lockinge success
Hawk Wing and Mick Kinane on their way to Lockinge success (Barry Batchelor/PA)

“We know what can happen with horses at any given time and nothing is for certain, but you would imagine he will be peaking at Ascot and it will be very exciting to watch.

“These great milers are always exciting to ride, they are explosive and always have a great turn of pace and it’s the best fun you’ll have on any horse if you get a very good miler.”

Of the prospect of Baaeed following in the footsteps of Frankel and stepping up to 10 furlongs, he added: “I would say a mile and a quarter later in the year would be well within his scope. He has pace and power and it would be a bonus if he was to step up later in the year.

“If a horse can win a race like the Juddmonte International, it’s a mile two and 100 yards, they have to get an extended mile and a quarter to do that you know.

“He looks like he’ll be a very valuable stallion prospect, so it’s very exciting for connections.”

Sun-drenched Newbury heralds return of racing’s new superstar

There were to be no bubbles burst here on Saturday. Not on this lush, green strip of Berkshire turf.

The Lockinge Stakes in particular, is invariably a pebble on the sea bed, rather than some unnavigable rock that casts aspirations adrift.

This race is a welcoming embrace for smart horses with big seasons ahead, the first stepping stone to a string of top-class targets.

Nothing could dampen the spirits. The sun shone. The ice cream van did a roaring trade. Summer had arrived. And so had Baaeed.

Some fancied horses have been beaten in this race, of course. Yet you had to go back a couple of decades to find the last odds-on shot beaten in the race.

William Haggas is not one to take chances. He is softly-spoken, considered. A measured pragmatist who plots a path without flim or flam. Though a genial man, he does not take fools gladly. One knows where one stands with him. As it should be.

Baaeed comes home with his ears pricked
Baaeed comes home with his ears pricked (David Davies/PA)

This was “a good starting point” for Baaeed he said succinctly, the exciting prospect in his care who came into this unbeaten in six races, justifying cramped odds on four occasions.

His last run, back in October, saw him down last year’s Lockinge winner Palace Pier in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot, his second successive Group One victory in a career that did not start until June.

Of course there were some questions to answer. The four-year-old’s rivals included dual Group One-winning filly Alcohol Free, who had blown the cobwebs off at Sandown in the bet365 Mile, and dual Group Two winner Real World, who was hoping to revive the fortunes of Saeed bin Suroor.

There was Classic-winning miler Mother Earth. The tough Chindit had won at the second level, New Mandate had taken a Royal Lodge.

Twenty minutes before his ride, his big-race jockey, Jim Crowley, had been dragged out of the weighing room to collect his prize for winning the London Gold Cup with Israr, for the same Shadwell Stud owners.

“There’s no pressure,” he smiled. “He’ll be OK.”

A debrief to connections from Jim Crowley
A debrief to connections from Jim Crowley (PA)

Angus Gold, racing manager to the owners, was also very relaxed. “Pressure? That is for the trainer,” he laughed. “It is lovely to have horses good enough to run in races like this on days like this.

“He is a pretty straightforward horse, and it is all up to Jim.”

And with no definitive pace-setter on Baaeed’s first run for six months, of course there were doubts.

There was no dipping the toe in. This was a dive into the deep end from the top board.

Yet the son of Sea The Stars made the required splash.

He cruised through the race, barely turning a hair, with Crowley not needing to ask any serious questions at any stage.

Haggas admitted his nerves beforehand. That owed much to his daughter about to give birth in Dubai, “which is far more important” he said.

“I had a few nerves. I’m not really like that, but it is all you fellas building him up and putting us under pressure,” Haggas laughed, with palpable relief.

With such a horse, an unbeaten one at that, comparisons with former stars are acceptable at this stage. Reminded that he had quipped that he had uttered the words “Nijinsky and Arazi” when he ran last year, he quickly backtracked.

“Nijinsky won on the bridle! I said he works like Nijinsky at home, but that is just an expression!”

Now the hype train will really gather speed, although the destination is set to be at stud at the end of the season. He is too valuable a commodity to risk in the long term.

“There is not really anything we are gunning for this season. We just want him to win the races he runs in,” said Haggas.

“I would think if he continues to win, I would say it is very unlikely he would stay in training next season.”

He added: “I don’t know if he is the best horse I’ve trained. Most horses who have a good turn of foot are good and he has got a nice turn of foot.

“I think he is a good horse. He has a great temperament. We saddled him in the stables and he was quite full of himself, but was brilliant when he got back down here (in the parade ring).”

Though connections were confident, Haggas, who has the huge responsibility of getting him in prime shape, was anxious.

“I was concerned by the lack of pace in the race, but deliberately didn’t talk to Jim, because he doesn’t want a trainer like me befuddling his brain.

“Jim knows exactly what he is doing. He is a very experienced rider and he knows the horse as well as me and he must do what he feels is right.”

The former champion jockey never had cause to worry. He tracked the leaders, made smooth headway to two furlongs out and led at the furlong marker before drawing clear.

“He’s smart. He doesn’t appear to have any weaknesses and is an absolute pleasure to ride,” said Crowley.

“He is so straightforward and is everything you want in a racehorse. He has every attribute you look for and you can put him anywhere in a race. He has gears, relaxes, stays the mile well and has a great turn of foot.

“I think he’ll get further and the Juddmonte (International) might be on the cards, I think.”

The Queen Anne – for which he was cut to 1-2 favourite – is virtually there for the taking at the Royal meeting. But after that, why would you try a crack miler over 10 furlongs?

Haggas simply explained: “It would be a shame not to try a mile and two (furlongs). Everyone was saying Frankel should have stayed at a mile and arguably he was at his most imperious when he ran in the Juddmonte on that unforgettable day.

“We will try it at some stage, but let’s just keep him in one piece and we’ll have some fun.”

He added: “Of course there were a couple of sleepless nights. I just hoped he would win. You can find lots of negatives.

“He was a little bit sweaty and coltish in the stables, but once he came down here, he thought ‘this is what I’m here for’.

“He is a dream at home. He is fantastic and hopefully there is lots more to look forward to.”

This is, of course, a team game with Haggas and his wife Maureen at the head of the operation.

For Baaeed’s groom, Ricky Hall, it was a red-letter afternoon. He looks after the colt at home and rides him in work. His smile said plenty, his words merely embellishing his joy.

“You could not ask for a nicer horse to be around,” said Hall. “I ride him every day and look after him, and he is just an absolute pleasure. It is a real team effort, though. Everyone does more than their bit.”

Was he similarly nervous? “I went for a run at four o’clock this morning and even though I forgot my running gear!” he said.

“I have ridden him all the way through. He is just gorgeous. So far this year I think he has got a bit stronger, but he loves everything and he is a happy, happy horse and we will try to keep him that way for as long as possible.”

For Crowley this was a routine afternoon. Turn up, ride three winners and pick up a Group One prize, put that thought of a run at the jockeys’ title a smidgen nearer to the forefront of his mind.

“It was a great day,” he said. “I was a bit unlucky in the first race and thought, ‘Oh no, I hope it is not going to be one of those days’, and obviously it is nice to get a treble.

“I am having a few winners with less horses and so hopefully I can pick up some nice outside rides.

“It has been good day – a treble highlighted by Baaeed, but the horse who won the London Gold Cup was great as well. I’ll make the most of it.”

And for now, for a brief, fleeting, enthralling summer, we should also make the most of Baaeed. This is just the start.

Baaeed proves simply a class apart in Lockinge stroll

Baaeed made the perfect start to his highly-anticipated four-year-old campaign with an emphatic victory in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

William Haggas’ superstar made effortless progress last term, going unbeaten in six runs and graduating from winning a Leicester maiden in June to winning back-to-back Group Ones in September and October.

The Sea The Stars colt was a hot favourite to extend his winning streak to seven and the 4-9 market leader made short work of eight rivals in the mile showpiece.

Chindit set out to make all, giving jockey Jim Crowley the opportunity to settle in behind and he could be called the winner some way from home as his rider started to move up the gears and Baaeed lengthened away.

To his credit, Real World tried to make a battle of it in second and ran a fine race in his own right, but he was no match for the three-and-a-quarter-length winner, with Chindit staying on gamely for third, a further length and three-quarters back.

Crowley said: “He is an absolute pleasure to ride and very straightforward. He is the most beautifully-bred horse. He is everything you want in a racehorse. Nothing seems to faze him.

“he doesn’t appear to have any weaknesses. I can’t think of one. He is really bright, has gears, relaxes and stays the mile extremely well and has got a turn of foot. You couldn’t ask for more really.

“I have sat last on him at Goodwood and he has got a very good turn of foot, so it is not like you have to be in a certain place in a race – just where he is happy, really.

“Mohaather, who won the Sussex Stakes, was very underestimated. What he did that day was exceptional. This horse looks like he could be the best (I’ve ridden).

“It was very straightforward. Everything went smoothly – it was like clockwork. There was not a lot of pace in the race, but he has such a turn of foot, but if they had gone quicker, it probably would have helped him.”

On stepping up in trip at some point, Crowley added: “You would imagine the Juddmonte (International) would be tailor-made for him.”

A rather relieved Haggas said: “I have to say I have never been more nervous before a race than I was today. There was a bit of pressure, because all you fellows keep writing nice things about him. But he did it nicely today.

“I would not go as far as to say he is the best horse in the world – that is the sort of thing others might say – but he has done very well. It was a strongish field, there was a Classic winner in there and two fillies who were very useful last year, so he has done really well.

“If we step up to a mile and a quarter, if he stays fit and healthy, we will go for the Juddmonte.”

He added: “Even better news is that my wife sadly can’t be here today, because she is in Dubai and our daughter’s waters have just broken, so we could be grandparents again in the very near future – which is much more important!”

Unsurprisingly connections of the placed horses are plotting a Group One course to avoid the winner.

Real World’s trainer Saeed bin Suroor said: “He’s run a big race back on turf and jumped well from the stalls, having missed the break last time. There is no disgrace finishing second to the best horse in the country and Europe, if not the world.

“If Baaeed’s going for the Queen Anne, Real World would go for the Prince of Wales’s.”

Richard Hannon, trainer of third-placed Chindit, said: “We had a point to prove and he’s proved it behind an exceptional winner, who obviously we will avoid in future.

“We wanted to ride him prominently up with the pace and Pat (Dobbs) said he quickened lovely when he asked.”

All eyes on Baaeed in eagerly-awaited Lockinge return

Baaeed will bid to conserve his flawless record when kicking off his season in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.

The William Haggas-trained Sea The Stars colt has been victorious on each of his six racecourse appearances to date, signing off his three-year-old term by defeating Palace Pier in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.

That neck triumph was his narrowest thus far, with previous Group successes in the Prix du Moulin and the Thoroughbred Stakes achieved by a length and a quarter and six and a half lengths respectively.

“Most milers start off in the Lockinge if they are that class,” Haggas said.

Baaeed winning the Sir Henry Cecil Stakes
Baaeed winning the Sir Henry Cecil Stakes (Tim Goode/PA)

“After he did what he did on Champions Day it was a pretty straightforward decision – the programme for a miler is the Lockinge and then the Queen Anne and then take on the three-year-olds – wherever that may take us.

“If there was any talk about him retiring to stud, I wasn’t party to it. Obviously I wouldn’t have been in favour but those decisions are out of my hands.

“Sheikha Hissa, who is in charge of Shadwell now, was very keen to race him as a four-year-old.

“Obviously I didn’t think he’d go from being a maiden winner to champion miler within four months, but it was a strange one because everyone knows we are not in a rush most of the time.”

Baaeed will face Group One-winning fillies Alcohol Free and Mother Earth in the Lockinge, both of whom he defeated in the QEII.

Baaeed taking the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes
Baaeed taking the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Steven Paston/PA)

“Obviously I hope we have a similar outcome to Ascot, Mother Earth and Alcohol Free are very talented and have had a run and we haven’t,” Haggas said.

“It’s a Group One race and they are never easy, but I’m trying not to delve too deep into it as all we’ve got to do at this stage is get our horse ready to go.

“The burning question is what is left to come this season as he’s quite deceptive, he’s laid-back, he’s not keen – he’s not lazy, he’s just nice. I don’t know how much more there is to come.”

Andrew Balding’s Alcohol Free will cross paths with Baaeed again and so too will Mother Earth, whose seasonal debut ended with victory in the Group Three Park Express Stakes at the Curragh on March 26.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien said: “Mother Earth is in good form. We gave her a run at the Curragh to have her ready for the Lockinge, we are very happy with her.

Mother Earth taking the Qipco 1000 Guineas
Mother Earth taking the Qipco 1000 Guineas (Mike Egerton/PA)

“We think she has matured from last year. She had some very good runs and she was a bit unlucky a few times. Physically she has come forward since last year.

“She did it well at the Curragh, it was competitive enough. They didn’t go very fast and she was back a little bit so she had to get going early to win, but we were happy enough with her run.”

Saeed bin Suroor is represented by Real World, a Godolphin-owned five-year-old who won all four of his European runs last season before embarking on a winter campaign in Dubai.

The horse is not exclusively a miler and has won over 10 furlongs in the past, but Bin Suroor has no reservations about the trip after prior victories in the Prix Daniel Wildenstein and Zabeel Mile.

“He’s won over a mile so I’ve no worries about the trip and he’s a horse I like a lot. I’m happy with him and he’s ready for action,” said Bin Suroor, who has won the Newbury showpiece five times, most recently with Farhh in 2013.

Real World and Marco Ghiani
Real World and Marco Ghiani (David Davies/PA)

“Baaeed looks very good, obviously, but he hasn’t run for a while, not since Ascot.

“Last year we came through gradually, brought him along steadily and it worked.

“He’s showing plenty of speed, a mile to nine furlongs is fine for him. He did win over a mile and a quarter at Newbury in a Listed race last year but a mile or nine furlongs is his trip.”

Richard Hannon’s Chindit also made a winning start to his season when landing the Listed Doncaster Mile Stakes in late March and will step back up to Group One level at Newbury.

“We were pleased with him at Doncaster, it was a nice little spot for him and he’s been in good form since,” Hannon said.

Chindit and Rossa Ryan winning the Doncaster Mile Stakes
Chindit and Rossa Ryan winning the Doncaster Mile Stakes (Simon Marper/PA)

“He’s been on the periphery in these races all last year and it would be nice to see him getting a bit closer to the front and having a say. We think he’s improved, although it’s a smart race.

“They’ll go along quicker with it being a Group One and that will help him.”

Hannon will saddle a second contender as Etonian returns to the scene of his ninth-placed run in the Spring Cup last month.

The Juddmonte silks will be carried by John and Thady Gosden’s Sunray Major, a lightly-raced five-year-old who was fifth when starting his term in the bet365 Mile at Sandown.

Barry Mahon, Juddmonte’s racing manager, said: “He faces an uphill task taking on Baaeed, but he performed well on his last outing when he found the ground a bit softer than he likes.

Sunray Major
Sunray Major (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“On good, quick ground hopefully he can improve for the run and run a respectable race.

“He’s five years old now, he’s a big, solid colt and he’s not easy to get fit. I’d say he definitely got a little tired and Frankie (Dettori) just felt the ground didn’t suit him (at Sandown), he’d prefer good to firm.

“We know we’ve an uphill struggle taking on Baaeed and if you’re not in you can’t win, but we saw in the Balmoral (14th on good to soft) he wants good ground.”

Ralph Beckett’s New Mandate took the Listed Paradise Stakes at Ascot on his first run of the year, beating William Knight’s Sir Busker, a fellow Lockinge entrant, by just a neck.

“He’s in rare from and he’ll need to be to take on Baaed, but we look forward to it,” Beckett said.

Baaeed facing genuine test in smart renewal of Lockinge

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.

Alcohol Free clashes with Baaeed at Newbury
Alcohol Free clashes with Baaeed at Newbury (John Walton/PA)

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.

Jockey Jim Crowley celebrated on Baaeed after winning the QEII
Jockey Jim Crowley celebrated on Baaeed after winning the QEII (Steven Paston/PA)

“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.”

Baaeed primed for Lockinge return at Newbury

Champion miler Baaeed is primed and ready to go for his much-anticipated seasonal reappearance in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.

Unbeaten in six starts, those victories came in just over four months last summer in a special period which saw him progress from a maiden to beating Palace Pier on Champions Day – his second Group One triumph.

Trained by William Haggas for Shadwell Estate, the four-year-old is now rated as one of the best horses in the world and on official figures has plenty in hand over his rivals at the weekend.

“He was unraced at two. I probably rang Angus (Gold, Shadwell’s racing manager) to tell him he needed more time and as he was unraced it was very unlikely he was a Guineas horse, so the plan was take him to a maiden and see what happens,” said Haggas, remembering last spring.

Baaeed beat Palace Pier (left) and Lady Bowthorpe in the QEII
Baaeed beat Palace Pier (left) and Lady Bowthorpe in the QEII (Steven Paston/PA)

“We obviously liked him, but we like lots of them and lots of them go the wrong way. This one went the right way.

“I was pretty impressed with him at Goodwood (in a Group Three), but I’d spoken to (handicapper) Dominic Gardiner-Hill after his second win at Newmarket in the Listed race when he said everything else ran to the pound, exactly where they should have finished.

“He said ‘he beat them four lengths so I’ve put him on 121 and could easily go higher, but I’ve got the Guineas winner on 122 and I don’t want to do that at this stage’, quite rightly. Given the handicappers are neutral, and they were getting the same vibes as us, I knew then he was good.

“I asked if Sheikha Hissa (who runs Shadwell) and Angus wanted to supplement for the Sussex on the back of that win, but we had another option of a Group Three over a mile which was a perfect fit. Sheikha Hissa said to go for the Group Three to see where we were and he obviously won that impressively and that was when we thought ‘crikey, we’ve got one’.”

Haggas has yet to win the Lockinge but one man has won it more than any other, his father-in-law Lester Piggott.

“Lester hasn’t offered any advice yet, but he’ll be sending his best wishes and hoping he wins. He’ll be following it closely as he still does with all of them,” said Haggas.

“I don’t feel any pressure yet but we’ll see on Saturday. Our daughter is a few days late foaling in Dubai, so that is pressure in its own way, I’d like that to go well. I try not to think about Baaeed, what will be will be.”

Perhaps the biggest question regarding Baaeed is if and when he steps up in trip given there is plenty of stamina in his pedigree.

“The only entry I gave to him before he ran was in the King Edward VII (over 12 furlongs) which says it all, but then I was guided very much by his brother (Hukum) who is a stayer,” said Haggas.

“He’s got a very strong backside and if you looked at him as an individual, you wouldn’t think he was a brother to a stayer as he looks fast. He’s not big, just strong.

“I think the dilemma we have over the course of the next six months is when and if we step him up in trip, a lot will depend how he gets on on Saturday.”

In his role as retained rider for Shadwell, Jim Crowley has ridden Baeed to four of his six wins, and was even on board for a recent workout at Chelmsford which seemingly went very well indeed.

“Jim is very important, he rode him the other day at Chelmsford and was very pleased with him – as we all were,” said Haggas.

Jockey Jim Crowley has developed a rapport with Baaeed
Jockey Jim Crowley has developed a rapport with Baaeed (Steven Paston/PA)

“He went with a lead horse we kept in training, who is quite useful and rated 104 called Montatham. He led, Aldaary (won a Listed race at Haydock on Saturday) sat second and Jim pulled him out and he quickened by. The other two weren’t pressed when he went on.

“We knew if the rain came Aldaary would go to Haydock at the weekend, so he was never going to have a hard bit of work, but it was just getting him out to a different place. I’d have loved to work on the grass somewhere. I didn’t fancy working him at Newmarket on Guineas weekend, so we went to Chelmsford and his work was very nice.

“It’s very hard to compare him to mine I’ve had in the past. I think Shaamit must have been pretty good to win the Derby as we were pretty clueless back then – probably still are – yet he managed to win the Derby first time out, which is quite a difficult thing to do.

“Sea Of Class had a great turn of foot and stayed very well. This horse is right up there but he has a bit more to do yet. We’re very fond of him.”

Baaeed heads nine contenders for Lockinge glory

Baaeed will face a maximum of eight rivals in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.

The Sea The Stars colt enjoyed a fantastic debut campaign in 2021, progressing from a Leicester maiden win in early June to landing the QEII on Champions Day at Ascot in mid-October.

The William Haggas-trained four-year-old also claimed top-level honours in the Prix du Moulin at ParisLongchamp and will be a hot favourite to extend his unbeaten record to seven on his reappearance.

Chief among his potential rivals is Aidan O’Brien’s top-class filly Mother Earth, who won the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Prix Rothschild at Deauville last term.

Unlike Baaed, the daughter of Zoffany has already had a run this season, having made a successful return in the Group Three Park Express Stakes at the Curragh in late March.

Richard Hannon has confirmed both Chindit and Etonian. The first colt made a smart start to his campaign in the Doncaster Mile, but will need to improve.

Saeed bin Suroor’s dual Group Two winner Real World is set for a return to turf after failing to handle the dirt in either the Saudi Cup or the Dubai World Cup on his last couple of starts.

The trainer confirmed that from now on Real World would be doing all his racing on turf.

Real World was a Royal Ascot winner last year
Real World was a Royal Ascot winner last year (David Davies/PA)

“He’s in very good form, he did his last piece of work today. He’s working well and is in good condition and I’m looking forward to running him,” said the Godolphin trainer.

“We had to try him on the dirt in Saudi and in the World Cup as they are such big races, but he didn’t handle it well. We’ve gave him the chance but that’s it, no more, it will be turf now all the time.

“The Lockinge is obviously a top-class race and Baaeed looks a very good horse, he looks a superstar.

“We’ll take our chance against Baaeed, so far I’m happy and he’s working well.”

New Mandate (Ralph Beckett), Sir Busker (William Knight), Sunray Major (John and Thady Gosden) and Alcohol Free (Andrew Balding) complete the acceptors.

Brilliant Baaeed all set to return in Lockinge Stakes

Baaeed is set to put his unbeaten record on the line in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

The four-year-old, trained by William Haggas, will head straight to the Group One showpiece on May 14 when he will try to build on a perfect 2021 in which he won six out of six, culminating in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.

Baaeed only made his debut in June and quickly climbed the ranks to finish the season with two Group One victories, in the Prix du Moulin and the QEII.

“Baaeed hasn’t started fast work yet, but he’s doing well. He’s had a good winter and he’s done lots of conditioning work. He’ll go straight to Newbury. There’s not a chance of him running anywhere first,” said Haggas.

“The plan would be to go to Newbury and then Royal Ascot and then see where we are. I think the interesting thing then is when, if ever, are we going to go up in trip with him. He’s a brother to Hukum and bred to get further, but while he’s so good at a mile there’s no need to.”

Though the ground was soft when Baaeed won the QEII, Haggas feels the Shadwell-owned colt can handle any conditions.

“There was an element of relief when he won the QEII. We hoped he was up to it and he proved that he was, but I still don’t believe he needs that ground, which was pretty soft in my book,” said the Newmarket handler.

“He’s got some good form on that ground, but if the ground at Newbury came up quick it wouldn’t bother me at all. It will be fine for him, I’m sure.

“Baaeed didn’t start racing until last June, and after just six runs we all hope there’s more to come. You can never be sure, and it’s possible he won’t be as good, but all of the signs are suggesting he might be just as good at four, if not better, so we have to hope that’s the case.”

Haggas has also entered Aldaary, who completed a Champions Day double for the stable when justifying favouritism in the Balmoral Handicap.

He said: “Aldaary has never run in a stakes race yet, but he’s a good horse on heavy ground, and a straight track suits him very well. He got that at Ascot, where he goes very well, and there’s no reason Newbury wouldn’t suit him just as well. Just occasionally it’s been very soft for the Lockinge, and if that’s the case Aldaary will be in there pitching too.”

Others among the 18 quality entries are last year’s 1000 Guineas winner Mother Earth from the Aidan O’Brien stable, Alcohol Free, winner of both the Coronation and Sussex Stakes for Andrew Balding, and the Joseph O’Brien-trained State Of Rest, who captured Australia’s signature weight-for-age contest, the Cox Plate, in 2021.

There are two entries from France, both trained by Francis Graffard who has nominated The Revenant, the 2020 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes victor who finished fourth behind Baaeed at Ascot last year, and the Group Three winner Dilawar.

Haggas eager for 2022 campaign with Baaeed

William Haggas is looking forward to seeing Baaeed in action next year having guided him to an unbeaten three-year-old season.

Baaeed has enjoyed a rapid ascent to the top of the tree as he was unraced as a juvenile and did not make his racecourse debut until the week of the Derby.

He ended his campaign by toppling Europe’s best miler in Palace Pier in Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot, with defending champion The Revenant even further behind, confirming Baaeed’s position in the top rank.

“I don’t think John (Gosden) was happy with Frankie’s ride on Palace Pier, but Jim felt he had him covered all the way,” said Haggas.

“We were expecting Palace Pier to attack in good time, but they crawled for the first furlong and I think Frankie thought he had the front ones covered, but Baaeed was always travelling well and I think he won OK in the end.

“Of course I’m looking forward to next year – as long as he stays right both physically and mentally – and he’s been a delight to train so far. He’ll be a fun horse to have next year.

“It’s terrific to have one of the best three-year-olds in Europe, probably.”

Baaeed’s path to the top – being unraced at two to winning Group Ones at three – mirrored Sea Of Class, who Haggas trained to be beaten just a nose in the 2018 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Sea of Class was another top-notcher trained by Haggas who did not run at two
Sea of Class was another top-notcher trained by Haggas who did not run at two (Tim Goode/PA)

“Sea Of Class was a brilliant filly and she also stayed well. She unfortunately died as a four-year-old. I shouldn’t have run her at Ascot that year (on soft ground in the 2019 Prince of Wales’s Stakes), but I won’t make that mistake again,” he said.

“She was exceptional and she was possibly a bit unfortunate in the Arc. She jumped straight into a Listed race on her second start having got beat in her maiden.

“Baaeed was a bit different, he needed a novice race and then the Listed before a Group Three and two Group Ones, so his rise has been pretty amazing too.”

Haggas admits he never envisaged Baaeed as a top miler given he is by Sea The Stars and his full brother Hukum has won at up to 14 furlongs.

“A lot of mine that don’t run at two I’m pretty sure are OK. I can’t remember why he didn’t run, he may have been immature, may have had a few niggles and then it went very soft, so I didn’t want to run him,” said Haggas.

“I’m also not a huge lover of the all-weather. Obviously we have quite a lot of runners on it, but I don’t like running two-year-olds on it. Sometimes you have to but if I know they are quite good, they don’t run.

“I never saw him as a Guineas horse because I saw him as a stayer given how well his brother (Hukum) stays.”

Monday Musings: Champions

An epic Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday definitely settled one major argument and all but decided another, writes Tony Stafford. In all honesty though, Murphy versus Buick and Appleby contra the Gosdens were the sideshows to an overwhelming afternoon for the Shadwell Estate Company, Jim Crowley and William Haggas.

There was a tinge of irony in the fact that in the week after the announcement of an admittedly expected but still shocking major reduction in the number of horses in the blue and white colours of the late Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, Shadwell won half the races.

Most – me at the head of that particular queue – expected a John and Thady Gosden benefit. But in the opening stayers’ race, Stradivarius suffered another defeat at the hands not only of Trueshan but 50-1 shot Tashkhan who came through late to give Brian Ellison a scarcely credible second place.

So once again Hollie Doyle was the nemesis for Frankie Dettori. He had accused racing’s favourite and most talented female rider of setting an inadequate pace on a pacemaker when the pair were riding for Aidan O’Brien in the Prix Vermeille on Arc Trials Day.

Dettori was on the unbackable Snowfall that day, previously a triple Oaks winner in the summer, including at Epsom under the Italian, but was turned over by Roger Varian’s Teona. Frankie reckoned Hollie got the pace wrong, but horses are supposed to run on their merits and in the event La Joconde was only a half-length behind the superstar in third. If that smacked of sour grapes, on Saturday it was more a case of sour face.

Riding his favourite horse the now slightly faltering multiple champion stayer Stradivarius, Dettori came back boiling, now blaming young Irish rider Dylan Browne McMonagle for twice blocking his run. My view of the closing stages was that any inconvenience could hardly have been of the order of four lengths – the margin by which he was behind Trueshan. McMonagle, far from bowed by the old-timer’s complaints, quite rightly called it “just race-riding”.

The fastest finisher of the front three was undoubtedly Tashkhan, who started out in 2021 having joined Ellison from Emmet Mullins on a mark of 70. He was already up to 106 by Saturday and no doubt will have earned another hike. For Trueshan and his owners, who include Andrew Gemmell, his exploits entitle him to be the year’s top stayer.

I felt it worth starting out on Grumpy Frankie, who in a magical career of well over 30 years has had more than his fair share of good fortune – and leniency from the authorities - notably that day with the seven winners on the same racecourse. That was the year when I had just finished writing his “autobiography”, a Year in the Life of Frankie Dettori. Come off it Frankie, imagine how many times you’ve got in someone’s way when they thought they had a race in the bag!

But we move back to Shadwell. Two of their three winners on the day were home-breds. These were Baaeed, emphatic winner of the QE II Stakes and Eshaada, another Roger Varian filly to lower the colours of Snowfall, again below par in third in the Fillies’ and Mares’ race. After the brilliance of her trio of summer Group 1 wins at Epsom, The Curragh and York Snowfall may just be feeling the cumulative erosion caused by those efforts – not least her sixth in the Arc just two weeks previously. Varian must be thinking she’s his Patsy!

The third Shadwell winner was like the other two, a progressive three-year-old. William Haggas had not even revealed Baaeed to the racing public until June 7 of his three-year-old career but in the intervening 18 weeks he had won four more times including at Longchamp. Here the son of Sea The Stars was faced with the Gosdens’ Palace Pier, the highest-rated horse in Europe last year.

That status has been usurped by last weekend’s Arc hero Torquator Tasso. Baaeed was a most convincing winner and must have a massive future. Whether it will be that much more glorious than what we will see from Haggas’s other winner in the same colours cannot be certain. Aldaary, by Territories, had won a handicap on the same track two weeks earlier, the 6lb penalty for which brought his mark in Saturday’s closing Balmoral Handicap to 109. No problem as he proved to be the proverbial group horse running in a handicap by galloping away from 19 others under an exultant Crowley in a time only 0.07sec slower than the Group 1.

If there was an element of sadness around Hamdan’s colours winning half the races on that massive day, for me there was just as much poignancy about Aldaary’s success. The breeder is listed as M E Broughton, slightly disguising the identity of a man who equally hid behind the name of the Essex-based company he built, Broughton Thermal Insulation, in his many years as an enthusiastic owner-breeder.

Michael died last year – as did his wife Carol – and that after a career where the Racing Post Statistics reveal more than 100 winners in his sole name. He won races in all but two of the 33 seasons for which the Racing Post carries statistics, and in his final days actually won four to get him past the century.

He was a one-trainer owner, relying on the always-reticent Wille Musson and when the trainer retired five years ago, he stayed on as Broughton’s racing manager. Clever man that Willie Musson.
Michael was a jovial red-faced enthusiast and for a few years he used to ask me to go through the Cheltenham card on the days when he entertained a table of friends. These included his loyal PA, Maggie and Michael’s brother Roger as well as the Mussons, in the main restaurant at the Cheltenham Festival.

All his horses carried the prefix Broughtons (sometimes with an apostrophe before the “s”) and Broughtons Revival won three races of the four she competed in on turf as against a winless five appearances on all-weather, of course for Musson.

Retired to stud she had six foals before Aldaary and five of them are winners. No wonder Aldaary realised 55,000gns as a foal to the bid of Johnny McKeever at the 2018 December sales and then, re-submitted the following year in Book 2 of the October Yearling Sale, jumped up to 150,000gns to Shadwell. More than 150 Shadwell horses are due to go under the hammer at the Horses in Training Sale next week. I doubt that Aldaary, who holds the entry, will be sporting the insignia of Lot 1308 at Park Paddocks, rather enjoying some down time back at Somerville Lodge.
However sad it was that Sheikh Hamdan could not enjoy his day of days, I have much more regret that Michael was unable to enjoy seeing by far the best horse he has ever bred over all those years. Willie and Judy Musson will have been pleased as punch no doubt.

Earlier in the piece I suggested that Snowfall might not have fully recovered from her demanding run in the mud of Longchamp 13 days earlier, but the horse that finished one place ahead of her that afternoon stepped up to win the Champion Stakes thereby unseating Mishriff, the second Gosden ace in the hole.

That top-class globe-trotting winner of more than £10 million had sat out the Arc presumably to save his energies for Ascot, but shockingly, he didn’t last home, fading to fourth as Sealiway and Mickael Barzalona strode forward. Dubai Honour made a great show in second for the Haggas team and Classic winner Mac Swiney was third ahead of Mishriff thereby keeping Jim Bolger well in the action hard on the news that his other star of 2021 Poetic Flare is off to a stud career in Japan.

Sealiway had benefited from the traditional French way of training top-class three-year-olds. He had not run for almost four months before his Arc challenge having been runner-up a length and a half behind St Mark’s Basilica in the Prix Du Jockey Club.

Trained then by F Rossi, he switched to Cedric Rossi during the layoff and this convincing victory showed him as a high-class performer and one that is sure to be a major force in European and world racing over ten and twelve furlongs for the next year or so.

Elsewhere, Oisin Murphy held on to win a third title, but I understand there might still be some uncomfortable moments for him. He is a wonderful jockey and we have to hope he can overcome his demons. William Buick’s strong challenge will have given this unassuming young man the confidence that a championship is within his grasp especially as the Charlie Appleby stable remains so powerful.

Last week I suggested the Gosdens had more than enough firepower to claw back the half-million or so deficit they had on Godolphin’s main trainer, but in the event they retrieved barely ten per cent of it on Champions Day. Admittedly the season and therefore the title race in name continues until December 31 but big John and son Thady have no realistic chance of breaching the gap.
Creative Force won the sprint for Charlie and William and a touch more than £300k in the second race of the six. With his main rival surprisingly failing to get a winner on the day – especially the QE II and Champion Stakes, worth considerably more than £1.1 million that looked at their mercy - Appleby assuredly will win his first title after a period when John Gosden and Aidan O’Brien have been dominant.

The massive crowd and good weather and not least fair ground made for a wonderful day – on the tenth anniversary of the lavish Qipco sponsorship. A couple of friends managed to secure tickets for the owners’ lunchroom and Kevin and Dave had a wonderful time. The staff seemed overrun at times but the very pleasant greeter at the top of the stairs was a superlative advertisement for the hospitality trade.

The smile never left her face and then later in the afternoon I was quite surprised to see her carrying out a heavy load of rubbish to the bins. On suggesting that might be someone else’s job, she replied: “They are so busy and have been working very hard, it’s only fair!” What a woman!

At the end of the afternoon, when Dave, having enjoyed a fairly long and liquid lunch, mistook a step and fell headlong down half a flight of stairs, again the staff were quick to come to his aid, calling immediately for the medics. Dave, 78, was pronounced okay so we were cleared to go off to an evening at an Essex hostelry to complete a lovely day. And while I was fully aware of my chauffeuring requirements, the boys made a night of it and true to form were up and ready to go early on Sunday morning with Kevin, I know, supervising the action at his shellfish cabin in Billericay.

- TS

Glorious scenes at Ascot as Sheikh Hamdan’s silks record famous hat-trick

There were emotional scenes in the Ascot winner’s enclosure after the brilliant Baaeed starred in a treble for the late Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s Shadwell operation on Qipco Champions Day.

Seven months on from the prominent owner’s death, the blue and white silks that have been synonymous with so many equine greats over the years were once again in the spotlight on the richest raceday of the British Flat season.

While the success of Roger Varian’s Eshaada in the Fillies & Mares Stakes came as a surprise to many, much was expected of Baaeed as he put his unbeaten record and huge reputation on the line in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

What followed was a race for the ages as the William Haggas-trained three-year-old outgunned his older and more proven top-class rival Palace Pier by a neck, leaving Sheikh Hamdan’s long-time racing manager and close friend Angus Gold struggling to fight back the tears.

“Sheikh Hamdan would have loved this. It’s a huge day for the team and Sheikh Hamdan’s family to sort of mark his legacy in the year he died,” he said.

“It’s fantastic to have two Group One winners. To have one is enough, but to have two and for this horse (Baaeed) who has shown so much all the way through to win again is brilliant.”

Palace Pier was the narrow favourite at the off at at 6-4, with Baaeed – who did not make his debut until appearing at Leicester in early June – a 2-1 shot under Jim Crowley.

Baaeed was travelling much the better of the pair racing inside the final two furlongs, but Palace Pier gritted his teeth to make a race of it and there was just a neck between them at the line.

Angus Gold was emotional at Ascot
Angus Gold was emotional at Ascot (Mike Egerton/PA)

Gold added: “Everyone was asking beforehand ‘what do you think?’. I just said we’d let the race tell us as he’s never beaten a horse of Palace Pier’s class before.

“What a fantastic horse race it was. At the three-furlong pole I looked at Frankie (Dettori, on Palace Pier) and thought ‘fantastic, we’ve got you’ – but he was still there at the end and was only just beaten, so it shows what a tough horse he is.

“Palace Pier had done it all before whereas we still had to prove it. He had a proper fight on his hands and thankfully he proved man enough for it.”

Shadwell, who went on to complete the hat-trick with Baaeed’s stablemate Aldaary in the Balmoral Handicap, announced last month it would slim down its operations in the UK, Ireland and America, “to focus on quality and competition at the highest level of the sport”.

But Gold is hopeful the colours will continue to be a major force in the sport next season and beyond, with Baaeed primed to captain the team.

“Obviously it was a huge operation and I think they just felt we needed to trim it, which is perfectly understandable,” said Gold.

“We’ve got a lot of horses going to the sales in the next few weeks, so we’ll see what we’re left with.

“We’re hoping to keep some of the best ones and obviously we’ve got some yearlings to come into training next year, so I think there’ll still be a fair few horses there.

“I think compared to most owners, it will be a fairly sizeable team.”

Of Baaeed, he added: “I’m amazed how much speed he has, with his pedigree. He’s a full-brother to Hukum, who as we know stays a mile and a half well.

“He’s a charming horse who always wants to please, so to see him win a stallion-making race – which is very important for the breeding – was a huge thrill.

“I don’t remember many that have done it so quickly and he’s never taken a backwards step, that’s what’s been so extraordinary for me.

“He hasn’t had a particularly hard life so far and has done what we’ve asked him the whole way through, so I can’t see why he wouldn’t go on.”

Crowley was aboard all three winners, and was quick to pay his own tribute to Sheikh Hamdan.

He said: “For me it was one of the best days racing that I’ve seen, let alone to have been a part of. Fantastic horses running today and so nice to have crowds back, it was a big plus.

“Sheikh Hamdan I’m sure is looking down. It’s so sad that he can’t be here, because he would absolutely been buzzing today. Hopefully his daughter, Sheikha Hissa, is watching and she will be over the moon. He loved Ascot.”

Baaeed stays unbeaten in pulsating QEII victory

Baaeed maintained his unbeaten record as he lowered the colours of Palace Pier in a top-class renewal of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.

The William Haggas-trained colt only made his racecourse debut in June – but has a perfect record of six after winning a second successive Group One following his victory in the Prix du Moulin at ParisLongchamp.

Benbatl set a sedate early pace from last year’s winner The Revenant, before the gallop picked up from halfway. The 10 runners congregated on the far side with Baaeed having to make his challenge on the outside from his wide draw.

Baaeed (2-1) was travelling well for Jim Crowley and he soon got into a battle with market rival and five-time Group One scorer Palace Pier, the 6-4 favourite in the hands of Frankie Dettori.

Both gave their all and it was Baaeed who crossed the line a neck in front of the game runner-up, to give owners Shadwell Estate and Crowley a quick big-race double after the victory of Eshaada in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.

Lady Bowthorpe (40-1) stayed on strongly to be just a length and a quarter behind in third in her last race before she is retired to the paddocks.

Haggas said: “Could you believe we’d be standing here at the start of the season? What a silly question. He’s done it.

“He’s won today. I think Jim’s words were he coped with the ground, rather than loved it, and he’s beaten the best miler in Europe so what can you say? I’m thrilled to bits. I’m shaking.

“I watched it while I was walking around a bit trying to get up my 10,000 steps a day and I’ve succeeded in that. That was great.”

Jim Crowley celebrates with Baaeed
Jim Crowley celebrates with Baaeed (Steven Paston/PA)

He added: “I need to watch it again because I was sort of only half-watching and listening to it, but to be champion miler on ground which Jim thought he coped with but no more…

“I thought he travelled very well and won. He’s very good isn’t he. He always worked nicely and he’s always had speed.

“I believe he will stay in training, but he’s finished for the year now, he’s done all he needs to do.

“I don’t know whether he’ll stay a mile and a quarter, but he may well do.”

A jubilant Crowley said: “I think he could be a world champion. He’s just a beast, he keeps getting better.

“The ground was a bit slow for him and on quicker ground I think he would pick up better, but he’s come a long way in a short space of time and he’s a proper champion.

“I know Sheikh Hamdan will be looking down, smiling, and I owe him everything, he gave me this opportunity, he chose me to be his jockey and although he’s not here to see it, it’s nice to be able to repay him.”

On plans, Shadwell racing manager Angus Gold said: “The plan always was to (return next season). I’d always imagined he was going to be better at a mile and a quarter, but I’ll have to slightly eat my words now.

“Discussions will have to be had with the family and see what they want to do, but I would hope he’ll be back next season.

“He won’t be going to the Breeders’ Cup. He’s done everything we could possibly ask him and from our point of view, we need him as a stallion.

“I don’t think he has to go there to prove himself. Let’s hope we see him next year.”

Palace Pier with Frankie Dettori ahead of the QEII
Palace Pier with Frankie Dettori ahead of the QEII (Steven Paston/PA)

John Gosden said of Palace Pier, who now heads for stud: “Frankie (Dettori) said it was a slowly-run race and I think if he rode it again he would have committed sooner rather than spending his time looking round. I think he should have committed earlier. This horse stays a mile well.

“The winner is a nice horse, but ridden again I think we would have been a little bolder.

“It’s likely that Palace Pier will go to stud now. He’s a fabulous horse, is good looking, has run with consistency in Group One races throughout his career and I think he will be an exciting horse to go to stud.”

Lady Bowthorpe is heading for the paddocks
Lady Bowthorpe is heading for the paddocks (John Walton/PA)

Lady Bowthorpe has been brilliant for William Jarvis this year, and he paid tribute to his hugely-popular mare.

He said: “That effort just shows what a great mare she is. I’m thrilled. And yet I’m also very sad to see her go (to the paddocks). She owes us nothing and we are so very lucky to have had her.

“It’s a great story, ending in her putting on a career-best against the best two milers in the world. I have a good idea where she will go, and let me say it will be a quite expensive mating.”

Baaeed bidding to prove his worth in clash of the miling titans

Baaeed has the chance to prove he is a superstar in waiting, in what is a fascinating renewal of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

Unraced until June this year, the William Haggas-trained colt has made giant strides with each run and last time out proved he could cut the mustard at the highest level in the Prix du Moulin.

Despite maintaining his unbeaten record, though, Haggas felt he was not quite at his peak that day and in any case, he will have to take his form up another notch against Palace Pier, the best miler in Europe.

“The bit that none of us know, and that includes me, is what he’s got left as he’s going to be tested. I know Jim (Crowley) is very fond of him and he’s a very, very lovely horse to deal with,” said Haggas.

“I couldn’t see, in my initial reading of it, where the pace was going to come from, but it’s a very strong race. It’s a championship race and it’s probably the best mile race of the season.

“All I’ll say is that if he wins on Saturday then the people who have been building him up were right. It is extraordinary, everyone wants him to go maiden, novice, Listed, Group Three, Group One.

“What we really want is to do what Sea The Stars did, which was to go from the Juddmonte to the Irish Champion Stakes and the Arc de Triomphe. That’s the ideal career and this horse, to use a popular expression, has danced every dance so far.

“I’m not a punter, but I’d have Palace Pier at even money, no questions, and be 3-1 with Baaeed. What they are in the market is irrelevant, I think he’s as short as he is on potential, but he hasn’t really got going.”

Reflecting on the Moulin, Haggas said: “I was really pleased with him at Longchamp, but we’d had a bit of a hiccup and I don’t want to undermine the horses that finished behind, but I’m pretty sure we didn’t see him at his best.

“If we get to Saturday all in one piece, you’ll see the best of him.”

The standard is well and truly set by Palace Pier, trained by John and Thady Gosden. The one blemish on his 10-race record came in the corresponding race 12 months ago – on deep ground when he also lost two shoes.

Thady Gosden said: “It looks a great race, I’m looking forward to it, but obviously there are some nerves for sure.

“He’s been in good form since the Jacques le Marois and everyone has been happy with him at home.

“Baaeed looks the big danger, he’s the horse coming through the ranks and won a Group One last time.

“This race last year is the only blemish on his record, he’s an exceptional racehorse but it was frustrating with the ground last year and he lost two shoes which in that ground will hinder your chances.

“Whether this is his last race, it’s a decision for his owners after the race.”

Jeff Smith has been lucky enough to have owned and bred some fantastic horses during a long involvement in the game – and he feels Alcohol Free, a three-time Group One winner, is right up with the best of them.

Oisin Murphy salutes the crowd as Alcohol Free wins the Sussex Stakes
Oisin Murphy salutes the crowd as Alcohol Free wins the Sussex Stakes (John Walton/PA)

The Andrew Balding-trained filly has had a break since failing to stay 10 furlongs in the Juddmonte International.

“Obviously I’m looking forward to it and it’s one hell of a race. It brings all the strands of form together and it’s certainly the highlight of the day – for me anyway!” said Smith

“She’s already beaten the colts once this year (Sussex Stakes), there was cut in the ground at Goodwood so that won’t be an issue, it’s just going to be a case of best horse on the day, which is as it should be.

“She had a break at the stud for about 10 days after York, put on a bit of weight, it was absolutely perfect. I haven’t seen her since she went back to Andrew’s, but by all accounts she’s in cracking form.

“Of all my horses she’d have to be the best, you don’t win three Group Ones without being top class. She’s achieved a lot in a season and a half.

“This will be it for the season, she won’t be going abroad but she stays in training next year.”

Mother Earth winning the 1000 Guineas under Frankie Dettori
Mother Earth winning the 1000 Guineas under Frankie Dettori (Mike Egerton/PA)

Aidan O’Brien’s Mother Earth has had 15 outings in two seasons, an incredible amount considering all bar her racecourse debut have been at Group level.

She won the 1000 Guineas back in May, added the Prix Rothschild in August and has not been out of the first three all season.

O’Brien said: “Mother Earth ran a good race in the Sun Chariot in Newmarket where the winner came up the other side. She is very consistent. She turned around the Matron Stakes form (with No Speak Alexander) by four or five lengths.”

Saeed bin Suroor has been absent from the season-defining mile contest for some time – but his old favourite Benbatl gives him a puncher’s chance.

“He came back good from his last race and is working well,” said Bin Suroor, who has won the QEII a record five times, most recently with Poet’s Voice in 2010.

“The ground is good at this moment. There are showers around, but if the ground stays as it is that would be great.

“The jockey (Pat Cosgrave) knows him well – he won a Group One in Australia on him (in 2017).

“The horse is in good form and good condition. It’s a very strong race with some of best milers in the world, but hopefully we will see a good run from Benbatl again.”

William Jarvis has elected to run Lady Bowthorpe here rather than in the Champion Stakes and said: “Once I saw that the Derby winner Adayar was running in the Champion as well as Mishriff it wasn’t a difficult decision. I don’t think we could beat either of them, but we might be competitive in the mile race.

“Nothing emerged after the Deauville race (beat only one), although she didn’t settle in the stables despite having travelled over there well. I’ve been delighted with her since and we are all looking forward to this.”

Adding further spice is Master Of The Seas, as the 2000 Guineas runner-up has his second outing since his comeback in the Joel Stakes won by Benbatl.

Trainer Charlie Appleby is hoping to head next to the Breeders’ Cup Mile – and the QEII is this year a ‘win and you’re in’ contest for that race.

The Moulton Paddocks handler told the Goldolphin website: “Master Of The Seas has pleased us since his reappearance (third) in the Joel Stakes last month. He is mentally maturing. The hood is removed this time. This is his stepping stone to Del Mar.”