baaeed-bandwagon-rolls-on

Whilst Baaeed failed to improve on his current world leading Queen Anne performance of 128 when winning the Qatar Sussex Stakes last Wednesday, he did all that was necessary to maintain his unbeaten record with a decisive success, writes Dominic Gardiner-Hill…

Baaeed and Jim Crowley

In what has now become a familiar running style, Baaed travelled strongly into contention from over two furlongs out and put the race to bed when asked to stretch, just needing a couple of light taps behind the saddle to set him about his business. I have put a figure of 124+ on the performance, gained from taking the view that front-running Japanese challenger Bathrat Leon (fourth) has reproduced his 115 from the dirt in Dubai, Angel Bleu (fifth) has run to his current published rating of 113 and the consistent Chindit (sixth) has run close to the 113 of his Summer Mile success at Ascot on his previous start.

This level suggests that runner-up Modern Games has run his best race to date at 119, whilst Alcohol Free (third) was some 7 lb below her July Cup winning form at 112, partially due to being hampered when trying to go for a gap between Modern Games and Chindit over a furlong out.

It has been clear for some time that there isn’t currently a miler in Europe to trouble Baaeed at his best so the world awaits his step up to 10f for the Juddmonte International at York later this month – he will likely meet stiffer opposition there and it may give us a better idea as to exactly how good he is.

Goodwood Cup thriller This year’s Group 1 Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup looked a fascinating and high-quality renewal on paper, and with the key protagonists ultimately fighting out a pulsating finish, the race itself certainly didn’t disappoint, writes Adam Barnes…

 The reigning Ascot Gold Cup winner – check. Four-time winner of the Goodwood Cup – check. Highest-rated stayer in training – check. Several other capable horses to give the race plenty of depth – check.  And thankfully last week’s Goodwood Cup delivered at least as much as it had promised beforehand, with Kyprios, Stradivarius and Trueshan clearly reading the script and giving us all a race to remember.

Aiden O’Brien’s Kyprios followed up his Gold Cup win in similarly tenacious fashion, again showing plenty of guts and grind alongside his plentiful ability. As was the case at Ascot, Kyprios impressed in the way he asserted late on after looking somewhat vulnerable to the challenges first of Trueshan, and then Stradivarius, once more leaving the impression there’s more to come when circumstances are conducive – such as a stronger all-round pace than he encountered here.

Kyprios and Ryan Moore (red and black cap) winning The Al Shaqab Goodwood Stakes

Whether Kyprios had to improve for this hard-fought win is questionable, though. For all the positive words about the quality of this year’s race and the very solid feel to the form, the final result seems to make plenty of sense against the pre-race form levels of Kyprios (119), Stradivarius (118) and fourth-placed Coltrane (111). In order to credit Kyprios with improvement I would need to make the case that Stradivarius has run his best race since that runaway 2020 Gold Cup victory, despite the general consensus that he hasn’t been quite the force of old over the last year or two. I’d also need to believe that Trueshan has run very close to his best turf form on ground quicker than he likely wants.

Therefore, despite the temptation to be a bit punchier, I have assessed Kyprios and Stradivarius as running to their respective pre-race ratings of 119 and 118, with the improving fourth Coltrane going up 2 lb to 113. This of course then raises the question of what to do with 124-rated Trueshan – and the short answer is that I won’t be changing that rating for now.

To have the third-placed horse come out of the race still rated 5 lb+ higher than his rivals might seem contradictory or just plain daft to some. But handicapping is sometimes a bit of a messy business, and there are occasions where it just isn’t possible to get everything lined up neatly. I don’t think it would be right to judge Trueshan on one run on ground that was very likely quicker than ideal, and I think it’s perfectly feasible that if the race had been run on soft ground then he may well have run out a tidy winner. For these reasons I’m happy enough to leave him as the clear top-rated stayer on 124, and it will be interesting to see what happens when – hopefully – rivalries are renewed later in the season.

Khaadem lands competitive King George Stakes The feature race on the Friday of the Goodwood meeting was the Group 2 Qatar King George Stakes run over 5f, writes Chris Nash…

Khaadem and Ryan Moore 

The King George Stakes has a very buoyant recent history with Battaash having made the race his own by winning four consecutive renewals between 2017 and 2020 and it also produced a good winner last year in the French-trained Suesa. The net effect of that meant that, once allowances and penalties had been taken into account, the last five winners had run to figures of 122-118-115-122-122 and the first five average over that period equated to 120/111/107/102/98.

This year’s race featured eleven runners and, on adjusted pre-race official ratings, the entire field were covered by just 6 lbs in the range 104-110. The competitive nature of the contest was reflected in an open market and a busy finish. The victory went to Khaadem (pre-race 108) who passed the post a neck clear of Raasel (pre-race 108), with Caturra (pre-race 106) a further three-quarters of a length away in third.

The BHA handicappers often use race standards to help provide a guide to the level of a contest but this race is a good example of when they can prove to be misleading. Based on the previous five renewals we would expect this year’s winner to have run a figure in the range of 112-114 but, given the quality of those recent renewals and the profiles/pre-race levels of the principals this time around, I have my doubts as to whether those suggested figures will provide an accurate guide to this year’s race.