Tag Archives: William Haggas

Saturday Selections: 15th October 2022

4.00: Ascot: Group 1 Champions Stakes, 1m 2f

It’s all about Baaeed. Unbeaten in ten career starts, he comes here after that massive performance in the Juddmonte International Stakes. He’s very much expected to win in style this afternoon.

Retirement beckons afterwards, and surely the smartest fillies are waiting for him in the breeding shed next year. That’s for then. It’s a bid for racing greatness here and now.

In truth, though, I have been somewhat reserved in getting overly excited about what Baaeed had done until he demolished a strong field at York in August.

The reason a simple one: I hold topspeed close to my heart as a KPI if it comes to judging race horses. Prior to the Juddmonte, Baaeed’s career-best of 106 was quite good, but far from brilliant – especially given the comparisons to the true greats of the recent past, like his sire Sea The Stars, or Frankel.

Even my beloved Paco Boy achieved much better; yet, I as the most enthusiastic Paco Boy fan in the world, have to admit, he was not one of the greatest the sport had ever seen.

Roll on the 17th August 2022: Juddomonte International Stakes – Baaeed eases into the lead, effortless, floating over the ground, majestically; he quickens in impressive style and slaughters a labouring Mishriff by 6½ lengths.

Nearly as important as the margin of victory: Baaeed achieved a topspeed rating of 124. Finally a superb performance on this measure as well.

Any concerns over the trip were convincingly put to bed. Connections decided against moving up to the Arc distance subsequently, though. Probably a wise decision in hindsight.

Baaeed – a perfect 10 out of 10 – is impossible to oppose today….. or is he? Most likely, I am clearly in the minority: I still question whether he deserves to be called a “true great”. In my view: not yet.

It’s possibly harsh to say he has to prove himself today. Yet, in my eyes he’s got to prove his greatness: a performance similar to York, and I am going to be fully on board.

That says, he faces two real dangers today: the ground and a fresh Adayar.

Softish ground isn’t a big deal, given Baaeed has won in these conditions in the past. However, he never faced a rival as classy as Adayar in these conditions. I firmly believe Baaeed can’t quite produce the same change of gear on this type of ground.

Baaeed is vulnerable: he produced a 94 best topspeed rating on ground when the word soft appeared in the going description. It’s likely he’s a better horse today than the last time he encountered softish ground; nonetheless, it’s a question mark.

That brings me to Adayar. The only serious opposition today. We haven’t seen much of last years Derby and King George hero. You have to worry about his disrupted year.

On the other hand, it gives him the opportunity to arrive fresh, without a hard season in his legs, after a solid, if unspectacular comeback run at Doncaster last month.

If – and it’s a proper if – Adayar is anywhere near as good as he was last season, then he’ll be a formidable danger to Baaeed. Because let’s remember, he produced his two best performances with cut in the ground in the Derby, and subsequently here at Ascot in the King George, then on fast ground. This versatility could be key.

He ran a huge race in the Arc toward the end of last season; one can forgive a subsequent poor run in the Champions Stakes. The drop to 10 furlongs is another question mark I have. On the other hand, given the softish ground, it could prove ideal, especially if William Buick is bold enough to kick on once the field turns for home. Adayar isn’t slow, and one thing is for sure: he will stay all the way to the line.

Tactically it’s going to be intriguing: what’s Crowley’s game plan? From the #1 draw, he may get boxed in, if he doesn’t move forward right away. I doubt he wants to be too aggressive early on, though. That’s a clear danger, especially if the ground takes something out of Baaeed’s turn of foot.

At the given prices, I simply can’t ignore Adayar. I have question marks. But I have them over Baaeed as well. He’ still by far the likeliest winner, mind. And the fan in me wants him to bow out in style. Yet, the punter in me says a fit and happy Adayar has a better than 10% chance to win a third career Group 1 this afternoon.

A shoutout for Royal Champion: a huge price, one who I feel could outrun this price tag (can be backed at 160s on Exchanges). I was hugely impressed with his recent Ayr run. One to keep an eye on for the future, in any case.

10pts win – Adayar @ 9/1

………….

3.50 Catterick: Class 4 Handicap, 6f

Perhaps it’s the end of the road for veteran Dark Shot after a number of recent below par performances; however, he was earlier this season still running to low 70 ratings, with a really strong run only back in July at Goodwood, when a neck beaten runner-up.

He was rated 69 and ran to topspeed 67 that day – a seasonal best on that measure, although it was especially his Doncaster 4th place finish a few weeks earlier that caught my eye.

He couldn’t back up those runs the last three times, but two came at Southwell on the All-Weather. He weakened badly in all three races, though. A worry.

But: Dark Shot won this very same race 12 months ago. He’s on a lower mark, will enjoy the return to soft ground and has a solid draw to attack the race from.

10pts win – Dark Shot @ 15.5

Sunday Selections: August, 19th 2018

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4.05 Pontefract: Class 3 Handicap, 1m 

The betting tells the tale: this is incredibly competitive. So it surprises that there is a 6/4 favourite – a wrong one, in my mind. I feel top weight Completion is clearly a cut above the rest on everything form wise we know for now.

That can change, of course, but Completion’s own progress may not yet come to a halt. He’s been disappointing in his last two starts on naked form, however there are fair excuses for it. 10f seemed a step too far last time out and the Heritage Stakes at Royal Ascot a super tough handicap where defeat isn’t a disgrace.

Before that, though, Completion won in excellent style on his turf debut at Redcar and was a formidable runner-up in an ultra competitive Haydock Handicap. Those forms work out really well and the fact he ran to TS ratings of 84 and 92 this year already suggest he is up to his current handicap mark.

Conditions should suit today, he’s got a nice draw and is likely to be positioned not too far off the pace. With top pilot Daniel Tudhope in the saddle Completion has a major chance to find back to the winning ways today.

Selection:
10pts win – Completion @ 7/2 MB

Foreign Diplomat can improve big time!

Newmarket Rowley Mile pre-parade ring

4.20 York: Handicap (Class 3, 7f)

Some interesting unexposed sorts in this race but none less than William Haggas’ Foreign Diplomat. He was quite costly as a yearling and proved to be talented when placed in three maidens as a juvenile. However it was an ultra impressive display on his seasonal reappearance at Thirsk eleven days ago when he finally got off the mark.

He travelled like a dream, always up with the pace, on the bridle till the final furlong marker. When asked to quicken he did so instantaneously. Maybe this wasn’t the strongest race, but the runner-up has some fair form to his name and Foreign Diplomat couldn’t have been more impressive.

Stepping into handicap company now, he looks not badly handicapped of an opening mark off 81. There could be still a fair bit of improvement to come and the fact that he has been gelded since this last run is quite interesting. Haggas usually seem to know for what types this can work best as he has a 24% strike rate with first time geldings. So this may well contribute to further improvement.

Foreign Diplomat @ 9/2 Paddy Power – 5pts Win