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Business as usual as Baaeed prepares for Champion Stakes swansong

| 13.10.2022

William Haggas and his team are keeping cool heads as Baaeed limbers up for the final run of a remarkable career at Ascot on Saturday.

The undefeated Sea The Stars colt will step foot on the racecourse for the last time at the weekend, with his swansong performance in the Qipco Champion Stakes for which he is the 1/4 favourite and will be ridden by Coral ambassador Jim Crowley.

Flawless in each and every one of his 10 starts so far, Baaeed is headed to stud at the close of the season and it is hoped he will take with him an unbeaten record of 11 runs and 11 victories.

Despite the building anticipation over the public’s last chance to see the horse run, the team at Haggas’ Somerville Lodge stable are mindful they must remain composed so as not to offer him any hint of their own tensions.

“I think it’s really important that we keep a level head, especially at home,” the trainer said.

“Everyone’s obviously a little on edge because it means a lot to all of us, we’re all lucky to have this horse while he’s been in training.

“Every single person that works for us and is involved with us has enjoyed the ride immensely, but we can’t go around getting tense and taut because he will then feel it. We’ve just got to be normal and treat him, as best we can, like any other horse in the yard.

“Normally a trainer in Newmarket has their best horse as second in the string every day, but he doesn’t always go second in the string. We just try to act normally around him so he knows no different.”

William Haggas, horse racing, Glorious Goodwood

The task of keeping the environment relaxed is made easier by Baaeed’s temperament – an attribute Haggas cites as key to his continued success throughout the past two seasons.

“I want to sound clever and say we’ve done a fantastic job to get this horse where he is, but actually he’s been so straightforward,” he said on a Zoom call ahead of Qipco British Champions Day.

“He’s been very sound, he’s got a fantastic mind and he works like he races. He may have just started a bit of what we called dossing, when he passes his lead horse he just goes ‘oh, that’s plenty. I need to do no more’. I started to think he was racing like that until I got him up to what John Gosden told me was the trip (10 furlongs) he’s been crying out for.”

Trained in Newmarket, Flat racing’s Headquarters, Baaeed has naturally become a point of interest for everyone else operating out of the town and is identifiable as he is led in his work by his grey stablemate Montatham.

“It’s quite easy to spot him because his lead horse, who is going to run in the Balmoral, is virtually snow white,” Haggas explained.

“You can see him from anywhere on the Heath, I think everyone, especially people who train, love seeing good horses. People know exactly who he is and watch just like I watched Frankel all those years ago.”

Baaeed is often likened to Frankel, the late Sir Henry Cecil’s unbeaten superstar, and such horses are as hard to come across as they are to beat.

“I wouldn’t have a clue what makes him good, I wish I knew so I could go and buy another like him at the sales,” Haggas said of Baaeed.

“He’s just got everything. I’ve always likened my job to being the headmaster of a boarding school, in that the sixth formers, at the end of every year, they go and the new boys and girls come in. Then we spend two years trying to work out which of them have got talent.

“Well, this horse would get 10 A*s at GCSE, he’d be captain of rugby, cricket, football and hockey. He’d breeze into Cambridge, he’d be Prime Minister.

“He’s just got it all, he’s that pupil that every headmaster wants. He’s just good at everything, I don’t know why he’s good at everything he does, but he just is.”

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Andrew McDermott

Andrew is a sports betting content journalist at PA Media. He is a lifelong Huddersfield Town fan but when he isn't reminiscing about their Premier League days he is also a junior cricket coach and enjoys cycling.