Big Baz (William Muir/Graham Lee (pictured)) scored a comfortable victory in the mile £40,000 Listed EBF Stallions Hyde Stakes (6.55pm) at Kempton Park this evening, November 18, gaining an automatic place in the £150,000 Ladbrokes Mile at Lingfield Park on All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, March 25.
The five-year-old Pivotal gelding, an 8/1 chance, was settled in the middle of the eight-runner field as Irish challenger Gordon Lord Byron (Tom Hogan/Wayne Lordan) set the early pace.
Approaching the three furlong pole, Big Baz made smooth headway to go second before taking up the running entering the final furlong. He ran on well to score by a length and quarter from the staying-on Godolphin filly Very Special (Saeed bin Suroor/James Doyle, 7/1) with Celestial Path (Sir Mark Prescott/Luke Morris, 10/1) also finishing well from off the pace to take third, a further length and a quarter adrift. The winning time was 1m 39.47s. Richard Pankhurst (John Gosden/William Buick) was the Evens favourite but never threatened and came home in seventh.
This was a second Listed victory for Big Baz, following his win last time out in the mile Ben Marshall Stakes at Newmarket on October 31 while it was his fourth win on an all-weather surface.
William Muir said: “I’ve said right from the start that he’s a Group horse, and he’ll be aimed now at the Ladbrokes Mile at Lingfield Park on Good Friday. Dubai is a possibility first.
“He’s a lovely horse, and it was my fault entirely that he ran those three poor races before he bounced back at Newmarket last time.
“Big Baz has improved from his Newmarket win last time out and ever since he won his first race at Lingfield Park on Polytrack I have thought he would make up into a Group race horse.
“He won a handicap nicely at Nottingham earlier this year and was put up to 104 and everything seemed to be going very well.
“He raced next in the Royal Hunt Cup and then twice more and ended up at Goodwood, where he was very disappointing. I blame myself for running him those three times as he had been on the go a long time and just needed a break.
“I gave him six weeks in the field, brought him back and he worked the best he had ever done. He went to Newmarket where I expected him to run well.
“He won there and has continued to work well so I was confident he would run a big race tonight even though he was meeting a decent field. He is an uncomplicated horse and Graham (Lee) rode him well.
“Big Baz loves Polytrack, at Lingfield Park and here, and the All-Weather Championships Final will be strong on our radar now he is qualified.
“There are four of us in Big Baz and we will discuss what to do next. It will depend if there are any more races for him on the All-Weather and of course there is the option of Dubai as well.”
Graham Lee, who was taking his score on the big Pivotal bay to three from three, added: “He’s very, very genuine, and he’s so uncomplicated. He’s thriving at the minute.”
Kempton Park’s eight-race card also included the £19,000 32Red Handicap, a Class 2 contest over two miles. The Peter Savill-owned filly Moonrise Landing (Ralph Beckett/Jim Crowley) was the impressive winner, with the 10/1 chance scoring by four and a half lengths from the 4/1 favourite Percy Veer (Sylvester Kirk/Luke Morris).