Haggas in awe as Baaeed prepares for swansong

William Haggas has likened Baaeed to “the pupil every headmaster wants” as the unbeaten colt prepares to bring the curtain down on his outstanding career in the feature QIPCO Champion Stakes.

The four-year-old arrives at Ascot rated the world’s best on turf after winning all 10 of his starts – with his rating of 135 making him the second highest-rated Champions Day runner after Frankel.

Like Frankel, he is aiming to bow out in style in the QIPCO Champion Stakes after blowing the opposition away on his first attempt over middle distances in York’s Juddmonte International.

This followed nine straight wins over a mile, including a coming-of-age victory on this day last year in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO), when he denied Europe’s pre-eminent miler Palace Pier by a neck.

“I would not have a clue what makes Baaeed better than the rest,” said Haggas. “I wish we knew because then I could buy another one like him at the sales. He just has everything.

“I have always likened my job to being the headmaster of a boarding school, in that the sixth formers go at the end of every year and then the new boys and girls come in and we spend the next two years trying to work out which of them have talent.

“In the case of this horse, he would get 10 A*, be captain of the rugby, football, cricket and hockey teams, breeze into Cambridge, and then be Prime Minister. He just has it all. He is that pupil that every headmaster wants and is just good at everything he does. I don’t know why he is good at everything he does, but he just is.”

When asked for his early impressions of Baaeed, Haggas said: “A lot of people ask me this and really he was just a nice horse with a nice pedigree, and we have a few of them.

“I think after his second race, when he won a novice by seven and a half lengths, I thought ‘boy, he’s not bad this horse’. Then after he won the Listed race at Newmarket, I phoned Dominic Gardiner-Hill, the BHA’s senior handicapper, and said ‘there seems to be a bit of hype about this horse, what do you make of him?’

“Dominic said ‘to be honest William, I have given him 121, which is a hell of a rating for winning a Listed race, and I could have easily given him more, but I felt that I could not put a Listed winner above the Guineas winner [Poetic Flare] at this stage’. When Dominic said that to me, I thought ‘crikey, this must be something a bit different’.”

The £1.3 million QIPCO Champion Stakes is likely to play a pivotal role in the trainers’ championship, with Haggas less than £70,000 behind Adayar’s handler and reigning champion Charlie Appleby entering the closing months of the season.

Haggas said: “Adayar is obviously a very good horse, having won a Derby and the King George. Charlie’s horses are running really well and he is talking Adayar up big time. Whether that is to put me under a bit of pressure or he genuinely feels that, I do not know, but I respect Adayar very much, as I respect Bay Bridge, who looked a fantastic horse at Sandown earlier this year.

“The trainers’ championship is never really something I have hankered for until about two months ago. Charlie has an extremely powerful operation, so it is an achievement for us to get this close and I am very proud of our team. The simple fact is, if Baaeed doesn’t win, we are 33/1 to win the title, probably 133/1! But if he does win, it could be rather interesting.

“You can never write John [Gosden] off either – if Trawlerman wins, Mimikyu or Emily Upjohn win and then Inspiral, he is right in amongst us. It will go right down to the wire and we will be trying our best to do it because the opportunity is there.”