'I May Never Come Across A Horse Like Him Ever Again': Jockey Jim Crowley Talks Baaeed Ahead Of Champion's Swansong - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

‘I May Never Come Across A Horse Like Him Ever Again’: Jockey Jim Crowley Talks Baaeed Ahead Of Champion’s Swansong

Baaeed wins the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot

Everyone associated with the brilliant Baaeed will be feeling under a degree of pressure when his unbeaten record is put on the line for an eleventh and final time in this Saturday's Group 1 QIPCO Champion Stakes. It's the race in which Frankel ended a similarly flawless career so memorably ten years ago, but luckily the man in the saddle doesn't get nervous.

Jim Crowley does not underestimate the responsibility he has to the horse, or indeed the task ahead, but he is looking forward to it and plans to enjoy the ride, just as he did when Baaeed confirmed himself champion miler as a three-year-old in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO) – one of Crowley's three winners from four rides on last year's card.

Crowley, who has ridden Baaeed for William Haggas and Sheikha Hissa on all but the first two of his ten starts and has already enjoyed six Group 1 wins on him, said: “I don't really get nervous. I'll get excited before the race, which is only natural, but once you are on him and away you just forget about everything.

“Riding Baaeed is a great feeling, but it brings with it a lot of responsibility. I'm looking forward to it, but nothing in racing is given and it's going to be a tough race for him. There are some good horses running and it's probably going to be his most important race.”

Saturday's race marks the return to the top level of last year's Cazoo Derby and King George VI & Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes winner Adayar, who if back to his best will be Baaeed's most formidable rival yet, but Baaeed was overwhelmingly superior when beating Mishriff by six and a half lengths on stepping up to a mile and a quarter in York's Juddmonte International Stakes last time, so Crowley's confidence in him could not be higher.

He said: “I've been fortunate to ride some good horses, but Baaeed does give that feeling of something completely different to any I've ever come across before – not only on the racecourse, but in his whole demeanor. He's just such a professional and has such a great character. I may never come across a horse like him ever again.

“The Juddmonte was a very important race going into it. He had a point to prove, going up in distance, and he was taking on some really tough horses in the likes of Mishriff. It was just an amazing race to ride in. He just went through the race so easily and when I pressed the button he put the race to bed in a matter of strides. It was a great feeling to ride him and to show people what he was capable of.”

He concluded: “It's going to be a strange feeling going to Ascot. The most important thing for me is to get the job done and win, so hopefully he'll finish his career unbeaten. Maybe I'll enjoy the ride when it's over, because riding him also comes with a lot of pressure. Hopefully he'll win on QIPCO British Champions Day and we can look back with some fond memories.”

The Charlie Appleby-trained Adayar has more to prove than Baaeed, having won just a conditions race at Doncaster since ending his three-year-old campaign with a disappointing fifth to Sealiway in last year's QIPCO Champion Stakes, but both the trainer and champion jockey-elect William Buick are confident he is back to his best.

Buick said: “Getting Adayar back for the QIPCO Champion Stakes is one of the highlights of my year. He's got a huge task, but he's probably as exciting a horse as I've ridden all season. Doncaster was perfect for a comeback run. He really enjoyed himself and he did everything right. He's a bit of a forgotten horse this season but he was very good last year.”

He added: “It's a tough ask, but he's a Derby and King George winner who ran well in the Arc on ground he didn't like and when things didn't really go his way, then obviously the Champion Stakes came a bit soon after that.

“He's probably the best horse Baaeed has met, and it's going to make a great race either way. We'll sit down and make a plan when we know the field, but obviously Baaeed looks very straightforward and he's done it from every which way and at both a mile and a mile and a quarter.”

The ten confirmations also include two more from the Haggas stable in last year's runner-up Dubai Honour and smart three-year-old My Prospero, as well as Bay Bridge from the Sir Michael Stoute stable, which was successful in the corresponding race with Pilsudski and Kalanisi before it was moved to Ascot.

Bay Bridge has not been seen since he was only fifth in the Coral-Eclipse, when his reputation was such that he started favorite to beat rivals of the calibre of Vadeni and Mishriff, but he has been pleasing in the build up.

Stoute said: “It's a tough race against a world beater and last year's Derby winner but it's the Champion Stakes, so it's entitled to be, and he's an intended runner. After Sandown we had to stop him with a foot problem, but we've got him back now and we've been pleased with his preparation. We are looking forward to it.”

Possibles from Ireland include last year's Irish 2000 Guineas winner Mac Swiney, fellow Group 1 winner Helvic Dream, and Aidan O'Brien's one-time Derby favourite Stone Age. The Roger Varian-trained Royal Champion makes up the field.

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