Two shock results dampened the celebrations on 2022 British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday, with the mighty Baaeed giving up his unbeaten record when only fourth behind Bay Bridge in the marquee G1 Champion. The longshot Bayside Boy also sprang a major upset in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II but on the undercard favorites held sway, with victories for Trueshan (G2 Long Distance Cup), Kinross (G1 Sprint) and Emily Upjohn (G1 Fillies & Mares).
Champion Stakes (G1)
Bridge bursts Baaeed bubble
We are told time and again that horses are not machines, and saw it for ourselves when the top-class Baaeed suffered his first defeat in his last race, leaving the stage under a cloud as 10-1 third-choice Bay Bridge gatecrashed the party in the Champion, the highlight of a G1-heavy card at Ascot on Saturday.
Baaeed was 1-4 favorite to take an 11-for-11 record into retirement, but although he had every chance two furlongs out he could not quicken out of the soft ground. Conversely, Bay Bridge relished underfoot conditions, and after he had headed second-choice Adayar at the furlong pole was always doing enough under Richard Kingscote to stay in front, getting the job done by a half-length from Adayar, stopping the clock in 2:09 and one-half.
My Prospero kept on gamely for third, beaten a nose but a length and a quarter ahead of his barn mate Baaeed, whose shock eclipse killed the atmosphere on one of British racing’s biggest days, in fourth place.
“I thought the favorite was unbeatable, but my horse was in very good form at home,” said veteran winning trainer Sir Michael Stoute, for whom this was a third Champion. “He’s got a great mind and is an easy horse to train.”
No decision has been taken on whether Bay Bridge keeps going next year at the age of five, but Baaeed’s career is definitely over. “We’re very disappointed but that’s just the way it is,” said trainer William Haggas, voicing the emotions of so many.
Qipco Champion Stakes Horse Race Video
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (G1)
Boy upsets the applecart
There had been an even bigger upset in the Queen Elizabeth II, in which market leaders Inspiral and Modern Games were upstaged by 33-1 outsider Bayside Boy.
Hot favorite Inspiral threw her chance away at the gate, breaking very slowly, losing many lengths and never recovering despite the slow pace laid down by Jadoomi. Modern Games threw down a challenge a furlong out but Bayside Boy was finishing his race off strongly under Tom Marquand and his change of gear was decisive, getting him home by a length and a quarter from Modern Games, who nailed Jadoomi on the line, the margin a short head. Inspiral finished a limp sixth; the time was slow, 1:45 and one-half.
“It’s a funny old game,” said trainer Roger Varian, winning the QEII for the first time. “We had high hopes for him this year, but he didn’t like the fast ground through the summer.”
Bayside Boy was a G2 winner and twice G1-placed behind Native Trail and Luxembourg as a juvenile, but his sophomore campaign had been a letdown until he won minor stakes at Sandown on his previous start, and soft ground appears vital to his prospects.
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes Horse Race Video
British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (G1)
Upjohn on the up
Frankie Dettori, the darling of the Ascot grandstands, completed a double when Emily Upjohn bounced back to her best to claim her first G1 success in the British Champions Fillies & Mares.
The 3-1 favorite had run a lifeless race over course and distance in the G1 King George in July but was always traveling strongly and when she hit the front a furlong out the race was soon in the bag. She drew off to win by three lengths from longshots Thunder Kiss and Insinuendo, who were separated by a half-length, in a time of 2:33 and four-fifths.
The John Gosden-trained daughter of Sea The Stars will stay in training next year, when her main objective will be the G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in October.
British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes Horse Race Video
British Champions Sprint Stakes (G1)
Kinross shows Keeneland credentials
Dettori sparked his big-race brace aboard the rampant Kinross, who completed a four-timer and signed for a second successive G1 with a dominant score in the British Champions Sprint.
The five-year-old gelding is at his absolute peak, and although the 3-1 favorite had never won over six furlongs he was much too strong for the specialist sprinters, cruising into the race a furlong and a half out and driving clear to win by two and a quarter lengths, stopping the clock in 1:15 and one-half. The 150-1 shot Run To Freedom claimed second spot, a neck ahead of second-choice Creative Force.
“If he’s okay after this, he’ll go for the Breeders’ Cup Mile,” said trainer Ralph Beckett, enjoying arguably the best year of his career. “If it rains, so much the better for him.”
British Champions Sprint Stakes Horse Race Video
British Champions Long Distance Cup (G2)
Trueshan brave and true
The gallant mud-loving stayer Trueshan pulled off a three-peat in the British Champions Long Distance Cup, rebounding after a couple of below-par efforts to become the first horse to win the race three times under its current guise.
It was hard work for the 11-8 favorite, who prevailed by just a head after an exhilarating duel with Coltrane through the final quarter-mile, the pair coming very close together at one stage but drawing no action from the stewards. Trawlerman was three lengths back in third, while second-choice Eldar Eldarov came up empty, finishing seventh; the stopwatch showed 3:30 and one-fifth.
The six-year-old, partnered as usual by Hollie Doyle – married to fellow top jockey Tom Marquand – and trained by Alan King, will return to action next year when the G1 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot will be his major target.
British Champions Long Distance Cup Horse Race Video
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