Jim Crowley: “I’m relishing the pressure of riding Baaeed”
Coral ambassador Jim Crowley previews his five rides at Ascot on British Champions Day, including Baaeed in the Qipco Champion Stakes.
This is one of the biggest days of the year, and a day that was very kind to me 12 months ago, as I rode a treble.
It was always my intention to take Friday off, I didn’t want any long journeys, delays or so on, as obviously it was important to be fresh for such a massive day.
The week has gone well, including a double from just two rides at Brighton on Thursday, and as well as Baaeed, I have four other exciting rides to look forward to.
I start this year on Garrus, now a six-year-old, but a horse I actually rode as a two-year-old when he was trained by Jeremy Noseda.
On his day he’s a very smart performer, and won at Deauville in July, before running well to finish third behind Highfield Princess and Minzaal in a Group One back at the French track in August, form that has been well-franked since.
I’m happy with where we’re drawn, in stall seven, there’s plenty of pace around us, and on ground he won’t mind, I can see him running well at a big price.
One of my three winners on this day last year, I can’t wait to get back on Eshaaada here. She’s had a bit of a stop-start season, not getting her preferred soft ground, getting hampered in running at Haydock and then not quite getting home at Doncaster last time over that one mile six trip.
This is very much her trip, we know she loves Ascot, she’s got her ground, and while I think this is probably a slightly deeper race than 12 months ago, I am expecting another big run from her.
I’ve not ridden this fellow before but I’ve watched his races back and he’s put in some decent performances this season. He was a Deauville winner two runs ago, and then ran very well to finish third at Longchamp last time.
If Inspiral turns up in her best form, I do think she will be very hard to beat, but Modern Games might prefer better ground, and The Revenant might not be the force he was when he won this race two years ago.
Checkandchallenge will handle cut in the ground, and if Inspiral doesn’t fire for any reason, this horse could run into a place at a big price.
Obviously I can’t wait to get back on board this unbeaten star and I’m really looking forward to this. Hopefully we get a good pace and a clean race, that’s all we can ask for really, and if we do I am sure Baaeed will show us what he’s capable of.
It would be lovely for him to finish his career unbeaten and I have no doubt he can do that, but I also know that this is a horse race and no one is going to make it easy for us.
Whilst the market says Adayar is our biggest rival, and as a Derby and King George winner I have the utmost respect for the Godolphin horse, I also think Bay Bridge could outrun his odds. He’s been a horse I’ve been following since he beat me at Sandown earlier in the season and I think this ground will suit him well, although he will need to take a big step forward to beat my lad.
He beat Palace Pier on this day last year, and he slammed Mishriff at York last time, so we have beaten top-class opposition already, but Adayar has never looked short of pace and could be the strongest opponent we’ve ever faced with Baaeed.
His best chance of beating us is probably to make this a test of stamina as he has won over further, and the softer ground will probably suit him better than it will my horse, who has such a lovely action he does float across better ground, as he showed at York.
In terms of tactics, I just have to ride the race as it pans out. Whilst I respect the opposition, I also know how good my fellow is, and while there is pressure involved in riding this horse, it’s the sort of pressure I’m privileged to have, you can wait a lifetime to get this feeling, I’m absolutely relishing it.
I won this race on Aldaary last year, and Montatham hasn’t run since he finished down the field in that race, but he has a very important role at home, as he’s Baaeed’s lead horse!
This should be a lovely day out for him, and of course he won’t be up against anything of the calibre of his famous stablemate. I know he’s been in great form at home and the horse deserves to run a big race here, so hopefully he can end the day in style.