Racecourse bosses are hopeful Baaeed – the world’s highest-rated racehorse – will go head to head with Coroebus in their Qatar Festival showpiece after winning their respective one-mile contests at Ascot on Tuesday.
Connections of Baaeed plan to test him over a longer distance – probably at York in August – but are talking of a trip to Goodwood first. And the owners of Coroebus are excited by the prospect of trying to dethrone Baaeed.
Baaeed has been drawing comparisons with the great Frankel – the only horse to win the Sussex Stakes twice – and although Adam Waterworth, Goodwood’s managing director of events, said that seemed premature, he felt a winning season including a Sussex win could prove such talk was fair.
Baaeed had a straightforward success in the Queen Anne Stakes at Ascot as 1/6 favourite, ridden by Jim Crowley for trainer William Haggas. The trainer said he’d speak to owner Sheikha Hissa about plans but added: “It's potentially Goodwood next.”
Coroebus, ridden by William Buick for trainer Charlie Appleby, became the 16th horse to complete the 2,000 Guineas/St James’s Palace Stakes double in the post-war period in a thrilling finish. The 10/11 favourite beat Lusail (28/1) by a head.
Appleby said of a Sussex Stakes tilt: “I'm sure it's a discussion we’d like to have in the coming weeks. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and Godolphin have never shied away from a challenge.”
Goodwood boss Waterworth, who was at Royal Ascot yesterday to try to woo some other top names to Glorious week, said: “I think Coroebus is more certain to come but Baaeed’s owners are always massively sporting and we’d hope they’d send him to Goodwood.
"Ticket sales for the Qatar festival week are really strong and this potential clash of the top milers will only help.”
But the Sussex is unlikely to be the story of Glorious week.
Today at Ascot it’s all eyes on Stradivarius in the Ascot Gold Cup. He has won the Goodwood Cup four times and if he comes through today in good form, this year’s Goodwood Cup is likely to be his swansong.