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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.”

Palace Pier and Baaeed face off in QEII

Palace Pier and Baaeed will clash in Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions Day at Ascot.

The John and Thady Gosden-trained Palace Pier has been beaten only once in his career, when defeated by three and a half lengths behind The Revenant in this race last season.

Since then the colt has been faultless over the same mile trip, beginning his season with an eight-length success in the bet365 Mile and then going on to score a Group One treble that included the Lockinge, Queen Anne and Prix Jacques le Marois.

Palace Pier and Frankie Dettori, who takes the ride at Ascot on Saturday
Palace Pier and Frankie Dettori, who takes the ride at Ascot on Saturday (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Palace Pier’s chief rival appears to be the unbeaten Shadwell colt Baaeed, who has been a comfortable winner in each of his five runs from maiden to Group One level.

Trained by William Haggas, the three-year-old was a six-and-a-half-length winner of the Thoroughbred Stakes at Goodwood and then went to take the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp on his last outing.

William Haggas' Baaeed
William Haggas’ Baaeed (Tim Goode/PA)

Andrew Balding’s Alcohol Free is also declared and will look to bounce back from a sixth-placed run when last seen in the Juddmonte International at York.

Prior to that the filly had twice been a Group One winner this season, taking the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.

The Revenant bids to retain his title in the race after prevailing by a head last season for trainer Francis-Henri Graffard.

The chestnut has not been victorious in three runs this season, but was beaten by just a short neck when bidding for a third Prix Daniel Wildenstein at Longchamp earlier in the month.

The Revenant winning the race last season with Palace Pier on his left
The Revenant winning the race last season with Palace Pier on his left (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Charlie Appleby is represented by 2000 Guineas runner-up Master Of The Seas, who went on to finish third in the Group Two Joel Stakes at Newmarket in September.

The winner of that race was Saeed bin Suroor’s Benbatl, who shares an owner with Master Of The Seas in the shape of Godolphin and is also entered at Ascot on Saturday.

William Jarvis’ Lady Bowthorpe will look to regain the form that saw her win the Group One Nassau Stakes at Goodwood after a disappointing run when seventh of eight last time in the Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville in August.

Mother Earth after winning the 1000 Guineas
Mother Earth after winning the 1000 Guineas (Mike Egerton/PA)

Aidan O’Brien’s Mother Earth will be contesting her eighth consecutive Group One race this term, with the filly having won both the 1000 Guineas and the Prix Rothschild in a campaign that has seen her finish no worse than third each time.

Jessica Harrington’s Njord and David O’Meara’s Lord Glitters round off the field of 10 contenders.