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Picture: Baaeed: star bids to end his career in style in Saturday’s Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot (Edward Whitaker (

By Harry Wilson
Saturday’s Qipco Champion Stakes (17H00 SA Time) will bring down the curtain on Baaeed’s magnificent career and jockey Jim Crowley has described it as “his most important race” as Europe’s best Flat horse puts his unbeaten record on the line for the 11th and final time.
Crowley has partnered the Shadwell-owned superstar on his last eight starts, picking up six Group 1s in the process and is looking forward to riding in the race in which Frankel ended his flawless career ten years ago.
There is sure to be pressure in the camp in the build-up and on the day, but Crowley knows that he is riding a special horse and will enjoy the ride, just as he did when guiding Baaeed to success in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at this meeting last year.
Crowley said: “I don’t really get nervous. I’ll get excited before the race, which is only natural, but once you are on him and away you just forget about everything.
“Riding Baaeed is a great feeling, but it brings with it a lot of responsibility. I’m looking forward to it, but nothing in racing is a given and it’s going to be a tough race for him. There are some good horses running and it’s probably going to be his most important race.
“It’s going to be a strange feeling going to Ascot. The most important thing for me is to get the job done and win, so hopefully he’ll finish his career unbeaten. Maybe I’ll enjoy the ride when it’s over, because riding him also comes with a lot of pressure.”
Baaeed’s demolition job in the Juddmonte International, his first attempt at a trip beyond a mile, put all the doubts of his staying capabilities to bed although he is likely to face a new challenger at Ascot in the form of last year’s Derby winner Adayar.
“The Juddmonte was a very important race,” said Crowley. “Going into it he had a point to prove, going up in distance, and he was taking on some really tough horses like Mishriff. It was just an amazing race to ride in.
“He just went through the race so easily and when I pressed the button he put the race to bed in a matter of strides. It was a great feeling to ride him and to show people what he was capable of.”
Crowley rode half of the winners on last year’s Champions Day card, scoring on the fellow Shadwell-owned Eshaada in the Fillies & Mares Stakes and Aldaary in the Balmoral Handicap as well as just denying Palace Pier by a neck on Baaeed.
Victory on the latter on Saturday would surely surpass the achievements of last year’s treble for Crowley. He said: “I’ve been fortunate to ride some good horses, but Baaeed does give that feeling of something completely different to any I’ve ever come across before.
“Not only on the racecourse, but in his whole demeanour. He’s just such a professional and has such a great character. I may never come across a horse like him ever again. Hopefully he’ll win on Qipco British Champions Day and we can look back with some fond memories.”
Qipco Champion Stakes (Ascot, 4.00 Saturday)
bet365: 1-4 Baaeed, 7-2 Adayar, 10-1 Bay Bridge, 16 Royal Champion, 20 Dubai Honour, My Prospero, 50 Mac Swiney, Stone Age, 80 Helvic Dream, High Definition