'Strong chance' Baaeed runs in Arc - but only if ground is suitable says Haggas
Baaeed has "a strong chance" of ending his career in the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in October, trainer William Haggas said on Sunday.
Provided the ground is suitable, the unbeaten colt looks set to be tested for the first time over a mile and a half in Europe's most prestigious race.
Speculation has been rife over targets for Baaeed ever since he scored his tenth win in a row with an imperious victory in the Juddmonte International at York, with the Arc, the Champion Stakes and the Irish Champion Stakes all possible contenders.
In a statement outlining plans for the world's highest-rated horse, trainer William Haggas said: "Baaeed has been in great form since York and everyone is happy with his wellbeing. Having had long discussions with Sheikha Hissa, Angus [Gold] and Richard [Hills] we have come to the conclusion that he will have one more race this season.
"That will not sadly be in the Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes but will be either in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe or the Qipco Champion Stakes.
"A decision will be made nearer the time. He's not in the Arc so would need to be supplemented, but we are not keen to run him on bad ground in Paris, so if the ground is nice there is a strong chance he'll run there. Otherwise he'll wait for the Champion Stakes and run there."
The deadline to supplement for the Arc is Wednesday, September 28 at a cost of €120,000 before the €5 million middle-distance showpiece takes place on October 2.
Baaeed already has experience of Longchamp having opened his Group 1 account over a mile in the Prix du Moulin last September.
'A horse like Baaeed will have no problem at Longchamp'
Few jockeys in the postwar history of the sport have as much experience of France's premier racecourse as Olivier Peslier, whose four Arc victories gave him a share of the race record before Enable's two victories pulled Frankie Dettori clear of the pack.
And Peslier has no doubt that if Baaeed turns up on October 2, it will be a huge boost for the race.
"He has already shown himself to be a true champion and it's great news that he could be heading to Longchamp for the Arc," said Peslier.
"A horse like him who has handled all the best tracks in Britain will have no problem with Longchamp.
"There is nearly always a good pace in the Arc and, from what I’ve seen, he has a great cruising speed so the only danger would be if there was no proper rhythm to the race.
"I don't know if they would think about putting a pacemaker in for him or not, but on a purely sporting level, it's fabulous."
Paddy Power quote Baaeed at 4-6 non-runner, money back for the Arc, and spokesman Paul Binfield said: "Ireland's loss is France or England's gain, and I'm sure everyone who loves their racing will be hoping the rain stays away from Paris.
"If this marvellous horse is to become part of the sport's folklore as a true great, he's probably got to go and win an Arc, considered by many to be Europe's top middle-distance event."
Coral initially made Baaeed 2-1 favourite then cut his price to 7-4, and spokesman David Stevens said: "The 2-1 proved to be popular with punters happy to take a chance on the Paris weather and highlights the faith backers have in this colt."
Baaeed was the champion miler of 2021 when he won all six starts in his first season of racing.
He won three more times over that trip this year before stepping up to 1m2½f at York, where he scored by a hugely impressive six and a half lengths and earned a career-high Racing Post Rating of 138, which has been topped on turf only by Frankel.
He was also given a rating of 135 (up from 128) by the BHA, a figure bettered only by Frankel (140) and sire Sea The Stars (136) since the World's Best Racehorse Rankings were introduced in 2004.
Will the Arc ground be suitable for Baaeed?
The last three runnings of the Arc have been run in testing conditions, but over the medium term it is roughly 50-50 that the going will be suitable for Baaeed.
Six of the last ten Arcs took place on soft ground or worse, but the number of good-ground runnings over the last 20 years rises to 11.
What makes the decision a difficult one for William Haggas and the Baaeed team is that the ground can change very quickly at Longchamp in the autumn should the rain arrive.
As an example, the going was still good on the Friday before the 2021 Arc only for rain to arrive on Saturday and turn the course soft, and finally holding.
However, there are other factors which give more cause for optimism.
Firstly, there will be a fresh strip of ground on the racing line at Longchamp on the Sunday.
Then there is the emerging evidence that ground described as soft or even good to soft on the French scale, measured by the penetrometer, will ride quicker than that if using the Turftrax GoingStick.
Treve ran only a second and a half outside standard on officially soft ground in 2013, while Enable's first Arc victory at Chantilly in 2017 was just 0.31 seconds above the average, again on 'penetrometer soft'.
Haggas walked the track in heavy rain ahead of a 2018 Arc in which Sea Of Class was ultimately a fast-finishing second, but he and the racing world will hope there is no need to pack an umbrella on the Eurostar on October 2.
Going for the Arc (since 2011)
2016: Good (Chantilly)
2017: Soft (Chantilly)
2019: Very soft
Paddy Power: 4-6 Baaeed (non-runner money back), 6 Titleholder, 13-2 Alpinista, 7 Torquator Tasso, 8 Vadeni, 12 Onesto, 14 Do Deuce, Pyledriver, Westover, 16 bar
Bet365: 2 Baaeed, 6 Alpinista, Titleholder, 7 Torquator Tasso, 9 Vadeni, 12 Do Deuce, Onesto, 14 Pyledriver, 16 bar
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