All good things come to an end so they say and we duly said goodbye to the best turf horse we have seen since the mighty Frankel when Baaeed made his eleventh and final start in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot last Saturday, writes Dominic Gardiner-Hill…
Bay Bridge and Richard Kingscote
Unfortunately there was no fairy-tale ending with the William Haggas-trained colt managing to finish only fourth with a performance that lacked his trademark turn of foot. Whatever the reasons for his defeat to horses that he had 8 lb and upwards in hand of pre-race, there is no doubt that this was his lowest-rated effort since winning the Moulin last September (six runs ago).
In running to a mark of 119 on Saturday, I have him 16 lb below the level he showed when blowing away the opposition in the Juddmonte International at York on his previous start (135) – even a basic comparison with his superiority over stablemate Dubai Honour in both races highlights how far below his best he was; at York he beat him a tad over nine lengths, at Ascot the gap was under three lengths! It’s a real shame that he couldn’t bow out undefeated but he had shown the world at York how good he was.
In amongst all this, let’s not forget the winner Bay Bridge who had looked likely to be a major force in the year’s top 10f races when landing the Brigadier Gerard Stakes by five lengths at Sandown in May but hadn’t really built on that on firmer ground subsequently in the Prince of Wales’s and Eclipse. Back on soft ground he returned a career best in my book of 122 (from 120) in holding the persistent challenges of Adayar (121) and My Prospero (121). It is now fifteen months and four starts since the former has performed to his pre-race mark of 127 so he has been dropped to 122, whilst this represented a career best by some way for My Prospero who is raised from 114 to 121.
The ability to act in the conditions almost certainly played their part in the result of the QEII as well. Soft ground and a straight track are the perfect mix for Bayside Boy who, having been a 114 rated 2yo at the end of last year, had failed to live up to that previously this season and had slipped to a mark of 111. He stayed on from rear to some effect (fastest final furlong of the contest by 0.33 seconds) and posted a career best of 119 in beating Modern Games (pre-race 122 but only ran to 116) and the progressive Jadoomi (pre-race 115, ran to 116). The former looks to be another who may have found conditions less than ideal, which would explain why this performance falls below what he produced on faster ground in the Woodbine Mile and Sussex Stakes on his previous two starts. As such, he retains his 122 for the time being, whilst Jadoomi is raised the pound to 116.
Inspiral was another hot favourite to run way below her best, with a slow start leaving her at a disadvantage from the outset. Like Baaeed, I have her 16 lb off her best with a performance figure of 105, but she too retains her pre-race figure of 121.
Sprint glory for thriving Kinross Even though this year’s renewal of the 6f Group 1 Qipco British Champions Sprint was missing several who had been successful over the trip at the top level this season – namely Minzaal, Highfield Princess and Alcohol Free – it still provided a field with plenty of strength in depth, writes Stewart Copeland…
Kinross and Frankie Dettori
No less than five of the eighteen-strong field had been successful at Group 1 level, including 2021 winner Creative Force. However, the market was headed by the bang-in-form Kinross who came into the race on the back of a hat-trick of pattern wins, including a first Group 1 success in the 7f Prix de la Foret at Longchamp’s Arc meeting.
The field split, with one group down the centre and another racing against the far rail. There was arguably little to choose between the two groups early on, though the sectional splits showed the centre group were slightly edging it by halfway, and clearly were by two furlongs out.
Campaigned at around 7f/8f for most of his career, Kinross had shown on previous attempts at the trip that he probably required a stiff test at 6f and that’s exactly what he got here. Revelling in the underfoot soft conditions, he tracked the pace in the centre group (travelling noticeably strongly two furlongs out) and found plenty when asked to assert soon after.
He came home a decisive two and a quarter lengths clear of Run To Freedom – the longest winning margin in the race since being promoted to Group 1 status in 2015 – with Creative Force a neck behind in third, all three having raced in the centre group. Best of the far-side bunch was the admirable course specialist Rohaan in fourth, a further half-length back.
In terms of ratings, Kinross came into the race rated 118 after his Foret win, though a case could be made for 119 in that race, and I’ve credited him with that figure after this success. His rating of 119 is above average for the race and only bettered by Muhaarar’s 123 in the 2015 renewal.
As for those who chased him home, Run To Freedom is credited with a career best of 113 (from a previous high of 110), whilst Creative Force was far from discredited in running to 112 and will remain at the 117 he achieved in this year’s Platinum Jubilee at the Royal meeting. Rohaan returned a figure of 111, a shade below his current rating of 113, but he arguably deserves extra credit for faring best of the far-side group.
In summary, and looking at the overall European sprint picture this season, Nature Strip’s demolition job in the King’s Stand is the leading performance over 5f on a rating of 126, with the 6f division headed by Minzaal’s 121 in the Haydock Sprint Cup.
True Grit Alan King’s star stayer Trueshan again wasn’t at his brilliant best, but that didn’t stop him winning his third consecutive Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup, writes Adam Barnes…
Trueshan and Hollie Doyle
This year’s Long Distance Cup looked a strong and intriguing renewal on paper, with established stayers like Trueshan, Coltrane and Quickthorn being taken on by up-and-coming three-year-olds Eldar Eldarov and Waterville. While the race ended up falling apart somewhat, with the last three of that aforementioned quintet palpably failing to give their running, the form is still pretty solid with the first two from last month’s Doncaster Cup pulling clear of the improving Trawlerman.
Trueshan was uncharacteristically wayward under pressure at Doncaster, but that wasn’t an issue here, digging in well to narrowly reverse that form with Coltrane. Trueshan has been assessed as running to 116 in victory – a level that fits well with historical standards for this race – but remains on his pre-race rating of 123. Andrew Balding’s Coltrane (+2 to 115) has had a terrific year and this looks like another personal best from him, arguably even a shade unfortunate having been hampered early and also forced wide on the home turn.
The relative proximity of 106-rated Trawlerman (+6 to 112) is no reason to crab the form too much given he’s had such a progressive 2022 and had shaped like this longer trip would suit when winning the Ebor last time.
Of the remainder, Eldar Eldarov was particularly disappointing, but he shouldn’t be judged harshly for this too-bad-to-be-true run at the end of a very successful three-year-old campaign, and he remains rated 116. That said, there remain some doubts about the overall strength of this year’s St Leger form and it will be interesting to see exactly what sort of impact he can make in next year’s top staying races.