Matt Chapman: We all thought Baaeed was the best… but is the monstrous Flightline somehow even better?


OH my God! So it’s finally happened. The Sport of Kings has two genuine champions on each side of the pond.

There have been plenty of good horses in recent times, but in many cases we (TV pundits and journalists) have exaggerated their capabilities to create interest in the game.

Chappers is one of many simply blown away by Flightline

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Chappers is one of many simply blown away by FlightlineCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd.

A classic example would be Enable, who of course was a really good horse, winning two Arcs and loads of King Georges.

But she never achieved a rating that allowed her to be considered one of the greats.

Now, though, in the monstrous beast Flightline, and the equally undefeated and super-talented UK champion Baaeed, we have two horses who have broken the magical rating of 130+.

That’s the crucial barrier mark.

For some time now, Baaeed has been the best horse on planet Earth.

But that was blown out of the water in the Pacific Classic on Saturday when Flightline smashed up the Dubai World Cup winner Country Grammer and made him look like a 90-year-old pensioner crossing the road with two sticks, let alone one.

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It’s worth remembering that Country Grammer – rated about a stone below Baaeed but beaten nearly 20 lengths! – is a very strong stayer.

And Flightline’s middle pace took him so much out of his comfort zone that he was just left to plod on in a different stratosphere.

Oddly, both Flightline and Baaeed run over a mile and a quarter.

They are both unbeaten. But they will never meet.

That’s frustrating, but Flightline runs on dirt, and Baaeed on grass.

Now one would have to imagine that only in hell would horses that enjoy such different surfaces be made to come together.

But for those of us who are not absolutely sure to go to heaven, it’s one hell of a party to look forward to on the dark side.

There are two questions that I get asked most about horseracing.

The first is whether I prefer jumps or Flat racing, and the second is usually about what race I have enjoyed most.

Every year there are races that you think are special, and fill you full of enjoyment.

But as a racing fan there will only be a very few moments in your life when you look at a race and say to yourself, ‘hell, did that really just happen?’

I would say that I have experienced that sensation four times since I’ve watched Flat racing.

The first would have to be sure Shergar’s victory in the Derby.

The second, no doubt, when Arazi won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

The third, of course, would be Frankel’s 2000 Guineas. And now Flightline at Del Mar in Saturday’s Grade 1 extravaganza.

Flightline will probably only race two more times this season. Who knows if he will race on after that.

Baaeed will race one more time, in either the Champion Stakes at Ascot or the Arc.

My message to all of you is enjoy them while you can. What a great sport.

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