Annual awards come thick and fast at this time of year in Britain, and the biggest certainty is that the brilliant miler Baaeed will figure at the top of many polls. The colt who gave so much pleasure to so many people in his 11 race career made a good start by scooping the Cartier Horse of the Year title last week, along with the Older Horse award.
Coming a few days after his retirement to Shadwell Estates’ Nunnery Stud in Norfolk was confirmed, and within hours of his opening stud fee of £80,000 having been announced, Baaeed’s celebration was so well received that it took four people to receive the trophy from Cartier UK managing director Laurent Feniou.
But even the presence of Shadwell racing manager Angus Gold, his assistant and former stable jockey Richard Hills, regular rider Jim Crowley and trainer William Haggas on the podium in London’s Dorchester Hotel could not turn the spotlight on everyone who deserved credit for the champion.
Gold did his best to cover all bases, saying: “To all the team at Shadwell and Derringstown Studs who raised him; obviously to William, his wife Maureen and all their wonderful team at Somerville Lodge, who did such a wonderful job. To Ricky Hall, his devoted lad who looked after him beautifully and shared the work riding with Michael Hills, whose experience was lovely to have there to keep us all calm when things were getting testing.
“A big thank you to the lucky man who sat on top of him most of the time on the racecourse, Jim Crowley, who did a brilliant job. Not forgetting Dane O’Neill, who rode him in his first two starts and put him on the right foot. And to the horse himself; we were so blessed to have him. He had a great turn of foot but also an extraordinary temperament. He was the ultimate professional and made everyone’s job so much easier.”
Shadwell’s affairs this year have been expertly marshalled by Sheikha Hissa Al Maktoum, and Gold paid glowing tribute to her late father Sheikh Hamdan, whom he described as ‘the man who made it all possible but who sadly was not here to see him race’. Gold summed up with a special recollection of Sheikh Hamdan, saying: “One my favourite memories was seeing him in Ireland, never more relaxed than on his studs, walking round in his Arab robes.
It was what the Irish would call a ‘grand soft day’, which meant a howling gale of about 40mph. When I walked around a corner, I saw him peering over a fence, and as you can imagine his dishdasha was losing its battle with the wind. The yearlings caught sight of this and, of course, they had gone at 100mph in every direction.
By the time I got to him, he had a grin from ear to ear and was absolutely loving it. “He would have been so proud of Baaeed. He is the culmination of Sheikh Hamdan’s life’s work in racing and breeding. And he would have been very proud of Sheikha Hissa and all his family, who have taken on his mantle. So, I would like to dedicate the Cartier award to Sheikh Hamdan.”