INDEPENDENT HORSE RACING NEWS

Bathrat Leon is game but Baaeed is ‘on another level’

The focus switches to Deauville for Ryusei Sakai and team Yahagi after Baaeed dominates at Goodwood.

Bathrat Leon’s front-running effort failed to foil the imperious Baaeed in the Group One Sussex Stakes at Goodwood on Wednesday but connections are already moving on to his next assignment at Deauville.

Jockey Ryusei Sakai faces a quick turnaround as he racks up yet more air miles. He boarded a return flight to Japan early Thursday morning to fulfil engagements this weekend, and will jet to France on Monday for a two-week stay.

Sakai will partner King Hermes in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville on August 7 and Bathrat Leon in the Prix Jacques le Marois at the same Normandy venue on August 14.

The rider found an easy lead on Bathrat Leon in the Sussex Stakes and set the tempo in the 1600-metre contest, much as he had at Meydan in March when guiding the Yoshito Yahagi-trained four-year-old to a thrilling victory in the Godolphin Mile.

Bathrat Leon – first-up since his Dubai triumph – dictated a canny pace at Goodwood before quickening in an attempt to extend his rivals two furlongs out. But the imperious Baaeed was cruising at that point, positioned to pounce; and, when the brilliant Shadwell-owned champion sprinted by, followed by the Classic-winning Godolphin-owned challenger Modern Games, Japan’s raider could do no more than battle gamely to the finish line. He was edged back to fourth place in the final stride by the fast-closing Alcohol Free.

Baaeed’s victory cemented his status as a rare champion. The son of Sea The Stars is now unbeaten in nine starts and has five Group 1 wins to his name under Shadwell’s retained rider Jim Crowley.

“Baaeed just does what he has to. He is like his sire. Just before the winning line, he pricked his ears and shut down with me,” said Crowley after the four-year-old had accelerated powerfully past his rivals to win with uncommon ease.

“Baaeed is never going to be exuberant and win by 10 lengths, but the feeling I got off him between the three and the two-furlong pole, no horse can give you that feel. I have never known a horse like him before. I have ridden some lovely horses, I’ve been very lucky, but this is just on another level.”

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Jim Crowley riding Baaeed gets the better of Modern games to win the Sussex Stakes. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Europe’s champion miler – the world’s top horse going into the race with a rating of 128 according to the IFHA (International Federation of Horseracing Authorities) rankings – is now set to stretch out to a mile and a quarter for the first time in the G1 Juddmonte International at York on August 17.

“I am really looking forward to stepping up to 10 furlongs as I think he will enjoy it,” said his trainer William Haggas. “I don’t think we need to go for the Arc, I think we’ll go for the Champion Stakes or the QEII, depending on how he gets on at York.”

The 2000-metre Champion Stakes and the 1600-metre Queen Elizabeth II Stakes will be run at Ascot on October 15.

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