By Nicholas Godfrey
GB: All roads lead to the Qipco Champion Stakes for Addeybb, who will return to Newmarket as soon as trainer William Haggas can locate a suitable flight from Sydney following the gelding’s memorable success in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick.
The six-year-old netted the richest success of Haggas’s long career with a dominant victory in the A$2 million (£1m) highlight of Day 2 of The Championships, the showpiece event of Sydney’s summer carnival.
Owing to coronavirus, Haggas was watching at home in Britain in the early hours of Saturday morning as Addeybb scored emphatically under Tom Marquand – or ‘Aussie Tom’, as he has been christened locally during his highly successful stint, which is set to end when he comes home next weekend.
Haggas, naturally enough, was delighted with what he saw and set his sights on a return to Ascot for the Champion Stakes, in which Addeybb was beaten only three-quarters of a length by Magical 12 months ago before his two G1 wins in Sydney, where he won the Ranvet Stakes at Rosehill three weeks before Saturday’s triumph.
“His last three runs have probably been his best three,” said Haggas, who reports he has been inundated with congratulatory texts and emails since a famous success.
“It looks like’s improved and he’s now pretty consistent at that level – he beat Verry Elleegant with a bit more authority than he had in the Ranvet and she’s won a G1 race by nearly five lengths.
“Obviously it depends how you quantify Australian horses with European horses but they seemed to think the Queen Elizabeth was a deep race and he won authoritatively. It’s possible at this time of his life he could be at his best.”
With G1 penalties now in play for Addeybb, Haggas will be looking for top races over 1m2f in Europe. “That’s what his best trip is so why change it?” He said. “The thing is that nobody knows what is happening or what might happen at the moment but we will be trying very hard to get back to the Champion Stakes on Champions Day at Ascot. Otherwise all the obvious races over a mile and a quarter come on the radar for him.
“Not only do we not know what is happening but if there are about eight races he could run in, he has to land on his ground,” Haggas went on. “Europe is another unknown; there would be options if we could travel. So we’ve not only got to get the races, but also get the soft ground – but even if he never runs again, he’s had a good 2020.”
Haggas’s first priority for Addeybb is getting him home, which is easier said than done in the current circumstances, as he explained. “The problem is getting him back,” he said. “We definitely want to get him back but I don’t l know precisely how he’s going to get back.
“We have to come out of quarantine in about ten days’ time so if we can’t get a flight in that time, then it gets complicated. If he goes out for a break, then he has to spend another 30 days in quarantine again. We’re in a bit of limbo but the intention is to get him back home.”
On the other hand, stablemate Young Rascal is set to remain in Australia – though whether his future lies with Haggas or a local trainer is open to debate. Well-beaten favourite in the two-mile Sydney Cup, the five-year-old might yet have another run in Australia, though the Brisbane winter carnival, an obvious potential target, is in abeyance.
Initial post-race examinations have found nothing untoward following Young Rascal’s lacklustre effort at Randwick. “He will stay in Australia because there’s more chance of him getting G1 status there than in England,” explained Haggas.
“I think he’s a really solid horse. His effort in the G3 trial was strong and a mile and a half looked to be his trip on Saturday.
“He was still travelling well to the bend and we can’t find anything wrong, though we’ll get the physio and the vet to have a look,” the trainer added. “Most people thought he didn’t stay and I guess that’s exactly how it looked but I’m not entirely convinced yet.
“There’s just a little question mark because Tom said he didn’t feel completely right in the race; he wouldn’t switch his leads. So I’d like to try him again at two miles but whether he spells now or goes to another trainer, I don’t know.”
Looking further ahead, Haggas reckons the Caulfield Cup would be the ideal race for Young Rascal. “I wouldn’t rule out running him again in Brisbane if we were able to, but I don’t really know what’s happening there yet,” Haggas admitted. “Who knows what’s going to happen later in the year but it’s just possible they won’t let horses travel to Australia and the Caulfield Cup comes right under his radar. If that’s only for local horses, you’d feel pretty daft bringing him home!”