Jim Crowley: “Baaeed has always given me the feel of being exceptional”
Coral ambassador previews his rides at Ascot Races on Saturday
Ascot 1.25 – Long Distance Cup
A brilliant day’s racing – arguably the best of the season – begins with the Long Distance Cup.
It’s the one race on the card I don’t have a ride in but if I could choose one, I’d have to go with Stradivarius, on ground that should be quick enough for him to be seen at his best.
Obviously, Trueshan won this 12 months ago and should be there or thereabouts but we just don’t know what the race in Paris two weeks ago [Prix du Cadran] took out of this pair.
That could bring a horse like Hamish into the equation but the front two in the betting are the class acts of the staying division and a win for the old boy Stradivarius would be a fitting way to kick off Champions Day.
Ascot 2.00 – Minzaal
My first taste of the action comes in a wide-open looking Sprint.
My horse, Minzaal, was a classy two-year-old, winning the Gimcrack and finishing third in the Middle Park, and he made a really encouraging return to action at Ascot races earlier this month.
That was over five furlongs, and on very soft ground, so the return to six furlongs on better ground will be right up his street.
My only concern would be if he ‘bounced’, on his second run back after a long absence, but if he doesn’t, he could run really well here, I think he’s definitely got a chance.
The three Group One sprints over six furlongs in the UK this year have been won by three different horses – Dream Of Dreams, Starman and Emaraaty Ana – none of whom run here, which tells you how open this division is.
While I respect the likes of Art Power and Dragon Symbol, I don’t fear them, and wouldn’t swap my fellow.
We’re drawn in stall four, so there’s plenty of pace around us, and as I say, I’m hopeful of a very big run.
Ascot 2.35 – Eshaada
Eshaada began her season with a good win at Newbury races and we then ran really well to finish second in the Ribblesdale at the Royal meeting.
The winner that day – Loving Dream – has gone on to win a Group One in France, so the form stacks up well.
We then ran in the Yorkshire Oaks, but she just didn’t fire that day, she didn’t take to the track, and finishing last was too bad to be true.
She’s been freshened up at home since then, and at a track where she’s run well before, and on ground that will suit, I still think there’s plenty more to come from her, like Minzaal I hope she’s another who can run a big race.
Obviously, Snowfall is a hot favourite, but she has been beaten in her last two, and may have had a hard race in Arc, so we have to take her on, I think it’s more open than the odds suggest.
Ascot 3.10 – Baaeed
The biggest race of the day for me is the QE II, and what a mouth-watering clash it promises to be.
My fellow, Baaeed, has won all five of his starts this season, and while it’s not difficult to pick holes in his form, he can only beat what’s put against him, and he’s done it easily every time, in times that are decent as well, and he’s always given me the feel of being an exceptional horse.
It was important to win the Group One [Prix du Moulin] last time.
It may not have been the strongest renewal, but again, he did it well, and we expect him to improve again for that run, which is an exciting thought!
On paper, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of pace in the race. I suppose Benbatl might go forward, but the rest of us appear to be hold-up horses, which wouldn’t suit us, but nor would it suit Palace Pier.
We’re drawn on the wing of the field in stall ten, but I don’t see that as a negative, it means we should be able to get some cover, I can switch him off.
He also stays well, he’ll get ten furlongs for sure, and whatever he does here, it honestly will be a bonus, as he’ll be a better, stronger horse next year.
Palace Pier has been brilliant in winning all four of his starts this season, and is a worthy favourite, but it’s not a two-horse race.
Alcohol Free showed at Goodwood, when winning the Sussex Stakes, that she can mix it with the best, Master Of The Seas represents the 2,000 Guineas form, while The Revenant won this last year, although he would have wanted softer ground I’m sure.
For me this is the race of day and to say I’m looking forward to it is an understatement!
Ascot 3.50 – Al Aasy
Al Aasy will be a big price in the Champion Stakes but he’s a high-class horse and I’ll be riding him to run well, riding him to run into a place, which I think he is capable of doing.
He’s been gelded, and he just needed that run at Newbury last time. He should also appreciate this drop back to 10 furlongs, in such classy company there will be plenty of pace, so I can nurse him into the race.
Of the two market leaders, if he didn’t have too hard a race in the Arc, I’d probably just favour Adayar over Mishriff, but it’s a close call, and this is another wonderful race between all the right horses.
Like The Revenant in the earlier race, the ground probably isn’t soft enough for Addeybb to be at his best, but Dubai Honour is a fascinating, rapidly improving three-year-old, who could have more to come.
Ascot 4.30 – Aldaary
In the concluding Balmoral Handicap, it was a fairly straightforward choice for me to ride Aldaary over Montatham.
My horse won really well at Ascot earlier this month, he gets a six-pound penalty for that win, but I hope it won’t be enough to stop him, albeit like all the races here it will take some winning.
We’re drawn well in 11, I’ll have options from there, and while the Gosden horse [Sunray Major] has sneaked in down the bottom of the handicap and looks a real threat, I’m looking forward to this.