Qipco Sussex Stakes (Group 1)
STAR of the day on Wednesday at Goodwood was undoubtedly Baaeed, and the William Haggas-trained colt was almost unbackable despite facing a host of Group 1 winners in the Sussex Stakes.
He ended up going off at 1/6, and predictably won without seeming to exert himself fully, coming home a length and three-quarters ahead of Modern Games (Charlie Appleby/Will Buick) 12/1, with Alcohol Free (11/1) the same distance back in third, having snatched that place late from the positively ridden Japanese challenger Bathrat Leon.
The race went smoothly for Baaeed, and favourite backers had no moment of doubt as he cruised into contention in the straight.
His response when Crowley asked him to put the race to bed was immediate and decisive, but he was content to idle in front rather than stretch away as his fans would love to see.
Given Baaeed is the best around at a mile, and a brother to Coronation Cup winner Hukum, he is the sport’s obvious poster boy, with the mooted step up to a mile and a quarter in York’s International Stakes promising to show him in an even better light.
On the other hand, inevitable comparisons with Frankel are unflattering to him, and it’s no surprise that he has his detractors as well, with some moaning that his domination is boring.
That is patently unfair on Baaeed, whose job it is to win races, not entertain crowds, and the fact that he is so laid-back is clearly part of what makes him such a good racehorse.
The impression he gives is that if he has to do more to beat better rivals than he’s been facing, he will do, but he won’t win over the entire racing crowd until he does just that. Even then, of course, people will still say: “Yes, but Frankel…”
The winner was bred by the late Hamdan Al Maktoum, who enjoyed so much success with this family, which included the siblings Nashwan, Unfuwain and Nayef.
His interests have been taken on by his daughter Sheikha Hissa, who spoke after the race about what victory meant to her.
“For me and my family, Baaeed means the world,” she said. “He is a homebred and from the same family of Nashwan and the whole lineage. It’s good to see one of our best horses coming from the family that my father worked so hard on.
“He is a pleasure to have. He loves to work in the morning and it’s nice to see horses from a horse person’s perspective that they enjoy their job. Whenever I’m here, I love to come and see the horses. I was very happy to be here.
“I am very excited to see him at York. After Royal Ascot we thought he was ready for a mile and a quarter. I am wearing a badge with my father on. He comes everywhere with me.”
In a way, Jim Crowley’s words on Baaeed are the best indicator of his true class. Despite riding a superstar like Battaash, and Crowley was in no doubt at all that Baaeed is the best he’s ever ridden, and he tried to explain why when interviewed after the race.
“Baaeed just does what he has to,” said the beaming Crowley. “Just before the winning line, he pricked his ears and shut down with me.
“Baaeed is never going to be exuberant and win by 10 lengths, but the feeling I got off him between the three and the two-furlong pole, no horse can give you that feel. I have never known a horse like him before.
“I have ridden some lovely horses, I’ve been very lucky, but this is just on another level. The excitement and build-up before the race is great. It’s funny, I’m not a great sleeper, but I always sleep well the night before riding him.
“I don’t have any worries and he gives me confidence, and hopefully I give him some confidence as well.”