Baaeed cemented his position as the world’s highest-rated racehorse with a dominant length and three-quarter success in the G1 Qatar Sussex Stakes, handing trainer William Haggas a first win in the mile highlight.
Sent off the 1/6 favourite, Baaeed was shaken up by Jim Crowley to lead inside the final furlong and pulled away from Classic winner Modern Games (12/1) and last year’s winner Alcohol Free (11/1) in authoritative fashion.
This success takes Baaeed’s career record to a remarkable nine wins from nine starts and prize money earnings through the £2 million barrier. The four-year-old is now set to step beyond a mile for the first time in next month’s G1 Juddmonte International at York.
Haggas said: “I am relieved it’s over. Baaeed is such a nice horse. It is a great occasion and I said to Sheikha Hissa beforehand that the only time I’ve been photographed as much was when I walked into the paddock at Meydan and shook hands with her father [Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum] and about 50 people took my photo. I can’t tell you how sad it is for all of us that Sheikh Hamdan is not here to witness it. He did everything for days like this and he would have loved it.
“We had a little delay coming up here. It’s quite complicated as the boxes are quite a way away at Goodwood so you can’t walk up here. He was up here five minutes too late, but that’s the way it is. He was a little bouncy. He is a four-year-old colt and he knows it. Little things like being drawn next to Alcohol Free, the only filly in the race, does make you think, but actually once he gets going and once all the saddling is out of the way, he is a very professional horse.
“I am really looking forward to stepping up to 10 furlongs as I think he will enjoy it. When the entry [Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe] came up I said to Angus Gold [Shadwell Stud Racing Manager] that if he is a mile and a half horse, we are in trouble as he would have lost his speed. I don’t think we need to go for the Arc. I think we’ll go for the Champion Stakes or the QEII, depending on how he gets on at York.
“I said this to Jim in the paddock, we’ve got him for two more races after this so let’s just enjoy him and make the most of him – because he will most likely go to stud at the end of the year and I’ll spend the rest of my training career trying to find the next one.”
Sheikha Hissa Hamdan Al Maktoum, daughter of the late Hamdan Al Maktoum, said: “For me and my family, Baaeed means the world. 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. When I came yesterday, I thought Baaeed was going to like it and he did well in the Group Three here last year [Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes].
“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.”
Crowley said: “Baaeed just does what he has to. He is like his sire [Sea The Stars]. 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. In the winner’s enclosure here, it’s like he was out having a pick of grass in the morning. He’s so relaxed. He has taken great strides and can do more than win the way he is doing it. I thought the most remarkable fact was that at Royal Ascot he ran the last two furlongs quicker than Nature Strip.
“He’s got everything; a turn of foot, you can put him anywhere in a race; you can make the running, or you can drop him out. Good horses like that, they just tick all the boxes. It will be interesting up to a mile and a quarter next time – I am looking forward to it. I don’t have any worries about him going 10 furlongs. I wouldn’t have any worries if he went a mile-and-a-half, he’s that type of horse. It’s just a real pleasure to be part of him.
“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.”
Charlie Appleby said of Modern Games: “He is like his father [Dubawi] – he goes down on his sword. Everyone said to me you’ve got your substitute, but he is no substitute – he has won a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and a French Guineas. I would like to have a few more substitutes like that!
“William has given him a great ride. We were in the box seat. The winner is a very good horse, and full plaudits to him. From our point of view, we are delighted.
“We have always worked back from the Breeders’ Cup Mile, and that is going to be the plan. I don’t think you will see him now – he will either go to Canada or Keeneland and then you will see him in Kentucky for the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
“I hope he will stay in training. I feel that where we with the horses that we have to potentially retire to the farm, he deserves to stay on for another year and have another crack at it.”
William Buick said: “It was a race for second and Modern Games came second, so we are delighted. It is nice for him to come back to this form after his run over seven furlongs in the Jean Prat. He has plenty of talent. The winner did what we suspected. I did not see him until quite late. He is an exceptional horse, a fantastic horse, take nothing away from him.”
Alcohol Free’s trainer Andrew Balding said: “Alcohol Free has run a marvellous race. I thought Rob Hornby did a beautiful job of getting her to settle.
“She was checked at a crucial stage, but she would not have got anywhere near the winner. However, despite losing some momentum, she has put her head down and stayed on right the way to the line. She has run a fantastic race and we are delighted with her.
“William Haggas couldn’t believe how much she had developed as you sort of miss it when you see her every day. She has really developed into a fantastic looking racemare and we are thrilled with her.
“I am leaving future plans up to Jeff [Smith, owner]. We have entered her in everything over six furlongs up to a mile at Group One level. The filly will tell us to a certain extent, but anything is possible. It could be France, the Matron Stakes or the Haydock Sprint Cup. She owes us nothing, but she is thriving at the minute, but as soon as we think she has had enough, that will be that.”
Rob Hornby added: “We had to take our time and make sure Alcohol Free settled, which she did nicely. At the two and a half, I would have loved a nice clear run at things, but I had to check slightly, gather her up and go again. I was confident that I was grabbing third, but I might have given the second a race.”
The Qatar Sussex Stakes is part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.
3.35pm Qatar Sussex Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series)
1 Baaeed (Shadwell Estate Company Ltd) William Haggas 4-9-10 Jim Crowley 1/6F
2 Modern Games (Godolphin) Charlie Appleby 3-9-02 William Buick 12/1
3 Alcohol Free (Jeff Smith) Andrew Balding 4-9-07 Rob Hornby
William Haggas – 22nd Qatar Goodwood Festival winner Jim Crowley – 23rd Qatar Goodwood Festival winner