The world’s best racehorse steps outside his comfort zone as he makes what could be the penultimate start of his career at York on Wednesday.
Star miler Baaeed extended his unbeaten streak to nine with yet another easy win in the Group One Sussex Stakes at the Glorious Goodwood Festival last month but he faces a step into the unknown this week as he tackles 2,000m for the first time in the Group One Juddmonte International.
The four-year-old has nothing left to prove over 1,600m after winning five consecutive Group Ones at that trip and connections are keen to enhance his stud value by picking up a win at the highest level over further.
Baaeed is certain to go off favourite for this race but despite his eye-catching big-race record, if he is ever going to taste defeat in his career it could well be by Mishriff.
🏆 Qatar Sussex Stakes (G1)— 𝙒𝙤𝙧𝙡𝙙𝙍𝙖𝙘𝙞𝙣𝙜 (@WorldRacing1) July 27, 2022
1610 m, 1.000.000 GBP, for 3yo+
(4C Sea The Stars - Aghareed, by Kingmambo)
J : Jim Crowley
T :William Haggas
B & O :Shadwell Estate Company Ltdpic.twitter.com/Zp7iOhkkEi
This John Gosden-trained five-year-old was rated the joint-best horse in Europe last year after winning this race by six lengths and he will give Baaeed a huge fright at the very least if he turns up in similar form.
There is also every reason to think that Mishriff remains in similarly good form this season after trouble in running cost him an almost certain victory in the Eclipse two starts ago and new jockey James Doyle was caught unaware by his unusually slow start when third in the King George last time over 2,400m.
Mishriff’s best form has come over this track at this trip and with Baaeed not facing the highest of challenges in the mile division, the time could well be ripe for Baaeed’s bubble to burst.
Elsewhere on the York card, there is Hong Kong representation in the Group Two Great Voltigeur Stakes (2,400m) as prominent businessman Boniface Ho Ka-kui owns Deauville Legend.
The three-year-old has not finished outside the first two in his past five starts and was beaten just a head by likely favourite Secret State at Royal Ascot in June.
Deauville Legend has been holding his form well and will be heading to pastures new at the end of the British season with a potential switch to Australia on the cards as his owner hunts for some bigger prize-money.
Secret State will be hard to beat after following up his Ascot win with another easy success at Goodwood but it may be unwise to ignore the claims of Irish raider Aikhal, who has improved every time he steps up in trip and comes here off the back of an impressive Group Three win.
The other Group race at York is the Group Three Acomb Stakes (1,400m), which has attracted a field of nine two-year-old colts.
A hot field with all nine runners being previous winners, it could well pay to take a chance on Irish raider Indestructible, who improved from a promising debut to win by five lengths at Windsor last time under Silvestre de Sousa, who will be plying his trade in Hong Kong next season.