Baaeed edges out Palace Pier in QEII cracker
The top performances in rating terms on British Champions Day came in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, the second most valuable event on the card after the Qipco Champions Stakes. BHA Head of Handicapping Dominic Gardiner-Hill assesses both races…
Possibly the most anticipated clash of Champions of the 2021 season was that of Palace Pier and Baaeed over a mile in the QE II, which was a classic case of a reigning champion versus the new kid on the block. The former had been the joint-highest rated miler in the world in 2020, and with three Group 1 wins amongst his unbeaten four runs previously in 2021, it was clear he wasn’t going to go down without a fight to the William Haggas-trained Baaeed who hadn’t even seen a racecourse until 7th June and arrived at Ascot with a perfect record of five wins from five races. In a showdown that didn’t disappoint, Palace Pier did indeed battle hard to retain his crown but ultimately Baeed came out on top by a neck
Behind the ‘big two’ the form of the race looks solid and strong with Lady Bowthorpe (third, pre-race 117), The Revenant (fourth, 117), Mother Earth (fifth, 114) and Njord (sixth, 110) all running to within a pound (above or below) of their pre-race ratings, and the overall quality of performance of the first five home stacks up well against recent renewals.
I have promoted Baaeed 4 lb to a new BHA mark of 125 after his success, whilst I have also left Palace Pier on 125 which means that, as things currently stand, the pair now share the position of the world’s two highest-rated milers. It will be interesting to see if my international colleagues on the World’s Best Racehorse Rankings Committee find it easier to split them than I do when we have our annual meeting in December.
If the QE II was relatively easy to interpret from a ratings perspective, the Champion Stakes proved a little more challenging.
With Mishriff (fourth, pre-race 127), Adayar (fifth, also 127) and last year’s winner Addeybb (sixth, 125), all running below their best, it was left to another couple of young pretenders to fight out the finish with French challenger Sealiway (pre-race 117) holding the sustained challenge of Dubai Honour (116).
After playing around with various variables, including Sealiway’s relativity to St Mark’s Basilica (currently 127) in both the French Guineas and French Derby, the highest Dubai Honour could possibly have been when winning the Prix Dollar on his previous start, the running of Mac Swiney in comparison with his success in the Irish 2000 Guineas back in May and the level of previous Champion Stakes, I have settled upon a figure of 123 for Sealiway and 121 for Dubai Honour. This level has the added bonus of keeping the winner behind his Arc conqueror Torquator Tasso who is currently being credited with a 124/125 performance in Paris.
At the present time there is a 2 lb differential in the highest and lowest levels for the Champion Stakes being suggested by members of the WBRR Committee – looks like we will have plenty to discuss come December!
Success on belated Champions Day debut for Appleby
Following the disappointing news that Starman was injured and retired to stud in the build-up to this year’s renewal of the 6f Group 1 Qipco British Champions Sprint, the race suddenly had a wide-open look to it and attracted the largest field since twenty also lined up in 2015, writes Stewart Copeland…
Aside from Starman, none of the other horses – namely Campanelle, Dream of Dreams, Emaraaty Ana and Marianafoot – also successful at the highest level over 6f+ this season in Europe took part.
It therefore provided a great opportunity for another to claim a prize at the top table and that invitation was seized by the Charlie Appleby-trained 3yo Creative Force. Having already performed with credit in some of the top sprints this season, the stiffer test that confronted him at Ascot looked sure to suit and so it proved. It also provided his trainer with his first Champions Day success, with surprisingly his first runner at a Champions Day meeting.
Tracking the pick of the pace set by last year’s winner Glen Shiel (first time blinkers), Creative Force travelled well just off it and found plenty when asked to assert approaching the final furlong. This length defeat of Glen Shiel means a career best rating of 118 for him, with Glen Shiel bouncing back to the form he showed when runner-up behind Dream of Dreams in the Diamond Jubilee back in June (115). These ratings are up to the standard we would expect for the race, which is also bolstered by an excellent time.
After his success in the July Cup it looked likely Starman had the potential to dominate the division but that never quite materialised. However, his performance of 119 that day at Newmarket still looks the pick of the division this season, marginally ahead of Creative Force and Dream of Dreams, both on 118.
Trueshan caps off fine campaign with Long Distance double
Trueshan followed up last year’s victory in the Group 2 Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup, and he looks set to continue to be a hard horse to beat when getting his favoured conditions, writes Adam Barnes…
On four occasions in his career to date Trueshan has raced over two-miles plus on good to soft or softer ground, and each time he has come out on top in decisive fashion, with now two Long Distance Cup wins in addition to Group 1 victories in this year’s Goodwood Cup and Prix du Cadran. There appear to be few chinks in his armour when getting conditions to suit, and Alan King’s patient and considered approach has also played no small part in Trueshan’s productive second half of the season.
Trueshan went into Saturday’s contest as the top-rated horse in the field on 120 and he didn’t need to improve on that figure. The pace of the race was slightly uneven, which wasn’t ideal for Trueshan who, not unusually for him, raced keenly when the pace slackened after halfway. Nor was it ideal that he was forced to make his ground out wide on the home turn, but his potent blend of speed and stamina proved decisive in the straight, and he did enough to hold off the fast-improving Tashkhan (up 10lb to 116) by an authoritative length-and-a-half.
The race didn’t pan out ideally for Stradivarius (down 1lb to 118), with his rider having to back out of a move on the outside around five furlongs from home, ending up further back than ideal and, like the winner, also forced to come wide on the home turn. After doing his best to try and chase down the leaders in the straight, the effort of getting there unsurprisingly took its toll late on, Stradivarius ending up a similar distance behind Trueshan as in the Prix du Cadran a fortnight earlier. Stradivarius may not be quite the force of old this year, but he hasn’t had all that much luck of late and is still very capable on his day, so let’s hope we get to see him renew rivalry with Trueshan in 2022.