With 10 incredibly impressive wins since his debut at Leicester in June of last year, the previously undefeated and world number one ranked horse Baaeed was garnering a reputation as one of the UK and Ireland’s greatest ever thoroughbreds. The William Haggas-trained horse’s six consecutive Group 1 triumphs in particular gathered praise, with his runs in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Lockinge Stakes, Queen Anne Stakes, Sussex Stakes and Juddmonte International Stakes drawing comparisons to all-time great Frankel.
After Haggas announced that a meet in October would be Baaeed’s last race before retiring to the famed Shadwell Stud – debate began to surface as to whether that would take place at ParisLongchamp’s Prix l’Arc de Triomphe or Royal Ascot’s Champions Day. When Haggas decided to forgo the Arc in favour of the Champions Stakes, many fans and pundits saw it as the easier route of the two. In spite of that, Haggas and jockey Jim Crowley were still under an enormous amount of pressure to ensure the generational colt finished his career unblemished.
As the nine-strong field entered the barriers for the 1m2f affair, as expected, Baaeed was the prohibitive favourite in the horse racing betting odds at 1/4. Once proceedings began, the four-year-old settled on the inside rail towards the rear of the pack. Holding sixth position for the majority of the race, Crowley and Baaeed began to make their move as the field approached the straight. The pair managed to secure a path with three furlongs remaining and launched their attack – however – while it appeared as though he was closing the gap late – Baaeed was unable to find that all-important final gear over the last furlong.
He would ultimately finish a disappointing and anti-climactic fourth, with 33/1 outsider Bay Bridge digging deep to win it by just shy of two lengths from Godolphin’s Adayar and fellow Haggas-trained thoroughbred My Prospero who secured second and third respectively.
A visibly dejected Haggas spoke to the media after the race.
“It is sad he didn’t win but that is the way it is. He has been a brilliant horse, he didn’t show that today but you can’t take anything away from him,” he said.
“I’m sad for everyone here and everyone watching at home that he didn’t come here and go out with a bang.
“The ground wasn’t ideal but he just wasn’t at his best today.
“We have been so lucky to have him and we have some incredible memories because of him. He will be missed.”
As a result of Baaeed’s loss, there were questions raised as to whether the colt’s connections would decide against retiring the four-year-old and instead enter him in another meet to allow him to finish his career on top. That won’t be the case, with Haggas dispelling the rumours and confirming that his run in the Champions Stakes as the last time we will have the pleasure of seeing Baaeed in action.
While he couldn’t manage to end his career 11 from 11, Baaeed has well and truly earned his place in UK and Irish horse racing folklore.