What’s next for Bay Bridge after coming up short at Royal Ascot?

After a stunning victory in the Group 3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown in late May, Bay Bridge was one of the most talked about horses in the build up to Royal Ascot — and the Sir Michael Stoute-trained four-year-old was heavily tipped in the horse racing betting markets to make June an even better month for the veteran trainer, after Desert Crown strolled to victory in the Derby at Epsom.

However, despite setting off as 10/11 favourite for the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes on the second day of the royal meeting after that impressive performance on his seasonal reappearance at Sandown, Bay Bridge came up just short of the mammoth £599,708-winning prize purse in his first challenge against Group 1 opposition — losing to 5/1 chance State Of Rest.  

The four-year-old was expected to blow away the field in similar fashion to his five-length triumph over Mostahdaf in the Brigadier and when Frankie Dettori had an absolute nightmare getting the blindfold off second favourite Lord North in the stalls — completely missing the break and losing many lengths — it seemed Bay Bridge’s task of landing that maiden Group 1 victory was made a lot easier.

But State Of Rest made all the running in the one-mile, two-furlong contest, increasing the tempo at the two-furlong marker and kept on well in the closing stages to the point where Bay Bridge and Ryan Moore, who were also keeping on well, were never going to catch the Joseph O’Brien-trained horse.

Ultimately, Bay Bridge and Moore — in the red and blue sash silks of James Wigan and Ballylinch Stud — finished a length behind the winners, resulting in plenty of bet slips up and down the country being shredded into pieces and followers of the horse feeling somewhat underwhelmed by the performance — even though it was by no means poor display, nor a bad first attempt at Group 1.

But it does leave you begging the question: What is next for Bay Bridge? Well, Stoute, who is one of the oldest trainers left in the sport, has hinted that he could be upped in trip to a mile and a half after claiming that his horse ‘ran a very big race’ and that he was delighted with the performance.  

“The race didn’t pan out brilliantly for Bay Bridge but he ran a very big race and we were absolutely delighted with him,” the veteran handler said. “We didn’t know about him on this quicker ground but it didn’t inconvenience him.

“He has plenty of options and we need to think about whether we stick with a mile and a quarter or go up to a mile and a half, but we won’t make a decision for a little while.”

The potential of being upped in trip to a mile and four furlongs means that Bay Bridge could miss the Eclipse back at Sandown, where he, of course, won the Brigadier, on July 2nd. The four-year-old is the 5/1 second favourite behind Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Native Trail in the Group 1 race’s ante-post market at the time of writing.

Of course, if Bay Bridge is successful if asked to go the extra two furlongs, then the prestigious Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe could an option later in the season — where the four-year-old could go up against Derby winner Desert Crown, who is already as short as 2/1 in the racing tips to win the famous Longchamp contest.

Perhaps the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes back at Ascot next month could be the first test of Bay Bridge over a mile and a half. He would face stiff competition from the likes of Desert Crown, Hurricane Lane and Emily Upjohn, but he might as well be tested.

There’s no point jumping to conclusions at this stage, Stoute has said he is going to take his time before making the decision. So, all we can do is wait for that verdict, either way it will be interesting to see if Bay Bridge can bounce back from this.

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