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Champions Day: Baaeed masters Palace Pier in pulsating QEII

Sat 16 Oct 2021

Baaeed maintained his unbeaten record as he lowered the colours of Palace Pier in a top-class renewal of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.

The William Haggas-trained colt only made his racecourse debut in June – but has a perfect record of six after winning a second successive Group One following his victory in the Prix du Moulin at ParisLongchamp.

Benbatl set a sedate early pace from last year’s winner The Revenant, before the gallop picked up from halfway. The 10 runners congregated on the far side with Baaeed having to make his challenge on the outside from his wide draw.

Baaeed (2-1) was travelling well for Jim Crowley and he soon got into a battle with market rival and five-time Group One scorer Palace Pier, the 6-4 favourite in the hands of Frankie Dettori.

Both gave their all and it was Baaeed who crossed the line a neck in front of the game runner-up, to give owners Shadwell Estate and Crowley a quick big-race double after the victory of Eshaada in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.

Lady Bowthorpe (40-1) stayed on strongly to be just a length and a quarter behind in third in her last race before she is retired to the paddocks.

Haggas said: “Could you believe we’d be standing here at the start of the season? What a silly question. He’s done it.

“He’s won today. I think Jim’s words were he coped with the ground, rather than loved it, and he’s beaten the best miler in Europe so what can you say? I’m thrilled to bits. I’m shaking.

“I watched it while I was walking around a bit trying to get up my 10,000 steps a day and I’ve succeeded in that. That was great.”

A jubilant Crowley said: “I think Baaeed could be a world champion. He's just a beast, he keeps getting better.

“It was magical. I think people forget he’s come such a long way in a short space of time. It’s a great buzz to ride a horse that good.

“He was a little bit fresh in my hands because I didn’t have any cover, but he was really tough. It was a great race. I thought the first couple of furlongs were sensible enough, then from four down the pace was just relentless, which I thought really suited my lad.

“I’m pretty sure he would stay further if he had to. He’s got a great mind, there doesn’t seem to be any chinks in his armour. He travels so well, the stronger they go in a race the better for him. He’s got a very good turn of foot as well.

“William has done a fantastic job with him. He probably wasn’t 100% going into France and he got the job done, so it was nice to bring him here in tip top condition today.

"The ground was a bit slow for him and on quicker ground I think he would pick up better, but he's a proper champion.

"I know Sheikh Hamdan will be looking down, smiling, and I owe him everything. He gave me this opportunity, he chose me to be his jockey and although he's not here to see it, it's nice to be able to repay him."

However, Crowley did pick up a two-day whip ban.

Lady Bowthorpe has been brilliant for William Jarvis this year, and he paid tribute to his hugely-popular mare.

He said: “That effort just shows what a great mare she is. I’m thrilled. And yet I’m also very sad to see her go (to the paddocks). She owes us nothing and we are so very lucky to have had her.

“It’s a great story, ending in her putting on a career-best against the best two milers in the world. I have a good idea where she will go, and let me say it will be a quite expensive mating.”

On plans, Shadwell racing manager Angus Gold said: "The plan always was to (return next season). I'd always imagined he was going to be better at a mile and a quarter, but I'll have to slightly eat my words now.

"Discussions will have to be had with the family and see what they want to do, but I would hope he'll be back next season.

"He won't be going to the Breeders' Cup. He's done everything we could possibly ask him and from our point of view, we need him as a stallion.

"I don't think he has to go there to prove himself. Let's hope we see him next year."

Gosden lamented Palace Pier not kicking for home earlier, and made reference to Dettori looking over his shoulder on numerous occasions. He suggested his star, who has almost certainly run his last race, could have been ridden more boldy.

It wasn't a great day at the office for either him or Dettori.

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