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Mother Earth (pictured) Could Be The Chief Threat

Champion miler Baaeed will set a very high standard when he bids to extend his unbeaten run to seven races in today’s Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, in which he will start a strong odds-on chance in a field of nine.

Newbury’s one-mile showpiece, which forms part of the 35-race QIPCO British Champions Series, has attracted a deep line-up, with all of Monday’s confirmations having stood their ground. However, the highly progressive Baaeed is a stand-out on the figures, just like last year’s Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes winner Palace Pier, whose mantle he took when beating him in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO) at Ascot in October.

Baaeed’s official rating of 125 already places him 5lb and upwards ahead of the rest at the weights, and we might not have seen the limit of his ability yet.

Trainer William Haggas places Baaeed “right up there” among the best he has trained, along with his Derby winner Shaamit and his Arc second Sea Of Class, and while he lacks a recent run Haggas has confirmed that the Sea The Stars colt delighted everyone in a racecourse gallop with smart stable-companions Aldaary and Montatham.

Shadwell’s retained rider Jim Crowley, who missed Baaeed’s first two wins last year, enjoyed getting back on him at Chelmsford and is excited about the coming season.

Crowley, who has described Baaeed as “a beast” and “a proper champion” said: “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.

“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.”

The former champion jockey, who won the 2019 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes on Mustashry, added: “The ground was on the slower side at Ascot and they hacked and then sprinted. On better ground I’m pretty sure he would have picked up better – just look at the way he quickened at Newmarket in July the last time he raced on fast ground.

“He’s an absolute pleasure to ride. He’s got manners and he’s just a lovely horse. I’m really looking forward to him.”

Godolphin have a fabulous record in the Lockinge, and Real World will be bidding to give them a ninth win in the race, and a sixth for his trainer Saeed Bin Suroor, whose last success came with Farhh in 2013.

The five-year-old has been unable to do himself justice in two of the world’s richest dirt races on his last two starts – in the Saudi Cup and the Dubai World Cup – but he is a very different proposition on turf. He is unbeaten in five races on grass, last June’s easy Hunt Cup win at Royal Ascot having been followed by a rapid rise through the ranks which culminated in Group 2 wins over a mile at Longchamp in October and Meydan in January.

Danny Tudhope rode Real World in the latter race, and he was understandably thrilled on hearing he was back on board.

Tudhope said: “It’s great news and I’m delighted to be getting back on him. As soon as I got on him in Dubai he just had a lovely presence about him. He’s an absolute monster of a horse and a proper sort. He won very well that day and he looks like he’s ready for these big Group 1s. He deserves to be there and he could have a good chance.

“You’d have to put a line through his two runs since on dirt as that’s a whole different game. 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.”

Tudhope is not a regular for Godolphin and has ridden only one winner each domestically for main trainers Bin Suroor and Charlie Appleby.

He said: “I’ve had a few rides for Godolphin and the odd winner over the years, and it’s always great to ride for them in the famous blue colours, especially in a Group 1 like the Lockinge. I don’t think I’ve ridden against Baaeed before but he looks the real deal. He’s the one to beat but there are a few other nice ones in there and it’s going to be an exciting race.”

Aidan O’Brien saddles last year’s QIPCO 1000 Guineas winner Mother Earth, who won a second Group 1 at Deauville in the summer and enjoyed another five top level placings in a busy campaign.

O’Brien, successful in the Lockinge in 2003 with 11-length winner Hawk Wing and again in 2018 with Rhododendron, has given Mother Earth a prep race in a Group 3 at the Curragh, which she won. He believes that she has “matured” and has “physically come forward” since last year.

She receives the 3lb sex allowance, as does Alcohol Free, who had Mother Earth back in third when winning the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot. Alcohol Free gained a third career Group 1 in the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, but she has been well below her best on her last three starts, including when tried in a hood, dispensed with now, and only third in a Group 2 at Sandown on her reappearance.

Ralph Beckett runs something of an unknown quantity in New Mandate, who beat Sir Busker a neck in a Listed trial for Royal Ascot’s Queen Anne Stakes on his return from a long absence.

Beckett said: “Richard Kingscote came and rode New Mandate out on Tuesday morning and he’s ready to go again. He won the Royal Lodge at two but got sick last year and only ran once.

“We never really got to the bottom of it, although we did ascertain it was definitely a viral issue. We’d gallop him and he’d fall apart on us. We’d give him plenty of time to get over it, but then we’d gallop him again and he’d fall apart again.

“Eventually I bit the bullet and we turned him away for two and a half months before bringing him back at the beginning of November and training him through the winter. He took a while to get organised again after his time off, and while his work had been good I wasn’t sure how he would run, so I was thrilled when he won at Ascot.”

The field is completed by Richard Hannon’s Chindit, a Classic hope a year ago and successful in Listed company at Doncaster on his return, his stable-mate Etonian, who has raced only twice since he was a two-year-old, and John and Thady Gosden’s Sunray Major, a half-brother to Kingman who could finish no closer than fifth when upped in class for last month’s Sandown Group 2.caption text here. Use the block’s Settings tab to change the caption position and set other styles.

Picture: Mother Earth (