Picture: Baaeed Wins The Queen Anne Stakes At Royal Ascot (Handout).
Graham Dench (www.thoroughbredracing.com)
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge: Win and You’re In visits Glorious Goodwood today when the £1 million Qatar Sussex Stakes offers a guaranteed fees-paid berth in the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland on November 5
Today is probably our last chance to see world #1 Baaeed racing over a mile before connections test their belief that he will be even better over another couple of furlongs, starting with York’s Juddmonte International.
A ‘Win And You’re In’ race for the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile – for which Baaeed has already earned automatic qualification through last month’s Queen Anne Stakes win at Royal Ascot – the £1m Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood on Wednesday [July 27] will be the unbeaten four-year-old’s first encounter with members of this year’s Classic crop.
Interestingly, he is taking the exact same path as Frankel did 10 years ago before stepping up in trip in the Juddmonte International, for Baaeed arrives here having ended last year’s three-year-old campaign by winning the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot and having since gone on to win both the Lockinge and Queen Anne Stakes with complete authority.
Frankel romped home six lengths clear here in 2012. Baaeed is not quite in that league and tends not to win in such extravagant style, but it will be a major surprise if he is beaten.
Following a late setback to 2000 Guineas winner Coroebus (ruedl out by an abscess on Monday morning), Charlie Appleby relies instead upon last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Modern Games, who is also a Classic winner, having won the Poule d’Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) at Longchamp in May.
Last year’s winner Alcohol Free also deserves respect after returning to her best by beating top sprinters over six furlongs in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket, her fourth win at G1 level.
The 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Order Of Australia was back to form last time at the Curragh, while further international interest is added Japan’s Godolphin Mile winner Bathrat Leon.
Baaeed (William Haggas/Jim Crowley) – unbeaten in eight races, the last four of them G1, and tops the TRC Global Rankings; easily handled Real World, who is otherwise unbeaten on turf, in both Lockinge Stakes at Newbury and Queen Anne at Royal Ascot.
Modern Games (Charlie Appleby/William Buick) – stands in for 2000 Guineas winner Coroebus but worthy contender in his own right, having won the French equivalent at Longchamp in May in addition to last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar.
Alcohol Free (Andrew Balding/Rob Hornby) – last year’s winner can match Baaeed with four G1 wins, having also won the Cheveley Park Stakes at two and Coronation Stakes at three; dropped back to 6f successfully to beat international sprinters in Newmarket’s July Cup for easily her best run at four.
Order Of Australia (Aidan O’Brien/Ryan Moore) – led stable 1-2-3 with shock victory in 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile but injured when bidding for a repeat 12 months later; back to form with all-the-way win in G2 over 7f at the Curragh; only fifth here after winning same race a year ago (connections blamed soft ground).
Bathrat Leon (Yoshito Yahagi/Ryusei Sakai) – unseen since winning G2 Godolphin Mile on dirt at Meydan in March; trainer had a Breeders’ Cup double as well as additional winners at Meydan and Riyadh, so dangerous to underestimate.
Shall we talk about it?
William Haggas, trainer of Baaeed:“I can’t remember having many runners in the Sussex but it is a race I would love to win. I don’t think Baaeed has much to prove but his pedigree smacks of further. He relaxes so well, he has a great mind, and I would love to see him over further at York in Juddmonte International. We are just starting to say amongst ourselves in the yard that we need to prepare for life after him – which I know sounds a bit pathetic – because he won’t be around for us to enjoy next year.”
Andrew Balding, trainer of Alcohol Free:“It took her a couple of runs to find her feet this year but she comes here off the back of a really good win over six furlongs in the July Cup and is in great form. She won the race last year, and while this looks a very strong renewal you couldn’t say it was a weak one when she beat Poetic Flare.”
Aidan O’Brien, trainer of Order Of Australia: “He won nicely the last day at the Curragh and is in good form. He won the same race last year before the Sussex, but then at Goodwood it was a bit soft for him. It will be better ground this year hopefully and that will suit him.”
Yoshito Yahagi, trainer of Bathrat Leon: “Last year in the spring the jockey fell off during the NHK Mile Cup in Tokyo, which meant the horse wasn’t in good order in the autumn. He then started to improve and that’s why I think he performed well in Dubai, although he wasn’t in perfect order. He has to improve again though against the Sussex Stakes field.”
Graham Dench’s verdict
At long odds-on, BAAEED is not really a betting proposition but he is hard to oppose on what is likely to be his last run at a mile. In the absence of 2000 Guineas winner Coroebus, the main danger appears to be last year’s winner Alcohol Free, back to form over shorter in the July Cup.