Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes (Group 1) | 1m | 4yo+ | ITV/RTV
Brilliant Baaeed puts his unbeaten record on the line when he makes his seasonal reappearance in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes, with both trainer William Haggas and regular rider Jim Crowley buoyed by the four-year-old’s recent racecourse gallop at Chelmsford.
Baaeed, officially rated 125 and winner of all six starts, highlighted by his electrifying neck success over Palace Pier in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot last October, concedes race-fitness to all eight of his Newbury rivals.
However, the Chelmsford workout, which was done in company with stable companions Aldaary, who is rated 117, and Montatham, should have blown away any cobwebs.
Crowley, who has partnered Baaeed to his last four successes, said: “I was extremely happy with Baaeed’s racecourse gallop and I am really looking forward to riding him again at Newbury. Horses like him don’t come around very often.”
The exciting son of Sea The Stars is certain to be sent off at odds-on – probably at around 2-5 – but no Group 1 race is easy to win, a point which Crowley readily acknowledges.
“Baaeed is 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,” he said.
“Palace Pier is an exceptional horse so what Baaeed did on 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.”
Crowley, who won the 2019 Lockinge on Mustashry for Sir Michael Stoute, believes Baaeed is capable of unleashing an even more devastating turn of foot than he showed at Ascot, given good or faster underfoot conditions.
“The ground was on the slower side at Ascot and they hacked and then sprinted,” Crowley recalled.
“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.”
Haggas is trying to keep a lid on his excitement as Baaeed embarks upon a season which, if many close followers of the sport are correct, could elevate the colt into the superstar category.
“He’s a lovely horse, and is absolutely fine,” the Newmarket trainer said. “He’s done well from three to four. He’s got a great temperament. He’s got speed, he’s got stamina and he had a very good mind last season – I hope it remains that way.
“Everything is on schedule. The Lockinge is the start of a long and hopefully fruitful season.
“Baaeed came a long way in a short space of time last year. We’re trying to keep our feet on the ground. There is a lot of talk about him.”
Some of that talk refers to the possibility of Baaeed being stepped up to a mile and a quarter at some stage, with races like the Coral Eclipse, for which he is quoted at 4-1, potentially coming into consideration.
Haggas said: “The question of whether we will step him up at some stage to a mile and a quarter is for another day.
“We’ve got the Lockinge to deal with first, and it isn’t an easy race. Baaeed doesn’t know what price he is. We want to get on with his season now.”
What they say
Richard Hannon, trainer of Chindit and Etonian
I’m very happy with both of them. Chindit got his Listed win and it would have given him a lot of confidence. I’ve always thought he's a very good horse and he still looks like he is. Baaeed will be hard to beat but we go there refreshed and he did run a great race in the Prix Jacques le Marois last summer. He’s a very good horse and I’m hopeful this is his level. Maybe this will be the day he gets his Group 1. Etonian had been off for a very long time and Julie [Wood, owner] wants to take these opportunities. While he has an awful lot to do, I was very satisfied with his last run, where he ran very well.
Saeed bin Suroor, trainer of Real World
He did his latest piece of work on Monday and looks in very good form at the moment. We tried him on dirt in the Saudi Cup and Dubai World Cup, but he didn’t handle the surface and I’m looking forward to getting him back on turf. He is facing a very good horse in Baaeed, who is one of the best milers in the world, but our horse is doing well and I’m looking for a good run.
William Knight, trainer of Sir Busker
It’s obviously a big ask. It’s a very competitive Lockinge. He’s run well in Group 1 company, though, and is there to pick up any prize-money he can. He’s in great form at home – he’s in great nick. I should think it will be genuinely good ground at Newbury, and that will be perfect for him. Hopefully he can run into a place, and then he’ll go to Royal Ascot for the Queen Anne.
Thady Gosden, joint-trainer of Sunray Major
Obviously it’s a step up in grade from a Group 2 to taking on the likes of Baaeed, but he got a little tired that day at Sandown on his first run of the season and he’s pleased us at home since. He didn’t enjoy the loose ground that day so hopefully the ground will dry out a bit for him down there.
Aidan O'Brien, trainer of Mother Earth
We're expecting her to improve nicely from her winning return at the Curragh and, if all goes well here, she’ll go to Royal Ascot afterwards. She's a very professional filly.