Royal Ascot Ones to Watch: Bay Bridge
Royal Ascot is a matter of weeks away and flat racing fanatics will have already drawn up their crack team of horses to follow over the course of the iconic five-day meeting — hoping that their selections will land them a fair share of winners in the Royal Ascot betting.
However, after a fantastic showing at Sandown towards the end of May, Bay Bridge has got to have earned a late entry to almost everybody’s ‘horses to follow’ list ahead of the royal event.
Trained by the experienced Sir Michael Stoute, the four-year-old blew away the rest of the field, including John & Thady Gosden’s heavily fancied Mostahdaf, to win the Group 3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes impressively — pulling away one furlong out and staying on strongly to win by a comfortable five lengths.
“He’s such a big, strong boy,” said Stoute’s breeder James Wigan in the trainer’s absence. “We rather thought in the paddock that he looked as though he might need the race but we’ve always thought a lot of him and Sir Michael has always been very complimentary about him.”
There’s no question that Stoute’s ability at the highest level has dwindled in the last couple of years — he is now a veteran at 76 years of age, after all. There have been signs of somewhat of a revival at his Freemason Lodge in Newmarket though, as Desert Crown is the outright favorite to win the upcoming Derby, which would be Stoute’s first win in the prestigious race since 2010.
Dream Of Dreams’ victory in last year’s renewal of the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot is also proof that he might be one of the longest-serving trainers in current day flat racing, alongside the likes of Mick Easterby and Sir Mark Prescott, but he still has it, and he’ll be hoping for back-to-back Group 1 win in Berkshire now Bay Bridge has made everyone sit up and take notice.
Getting the most out of older horses is one of Stoute’s fortes and he has done exactly that with this exciting four-year-old. The unexposed colt came through the ranks last season, winning a novice on the all-weather at Newcastle before two handicap successes and ending the season triumphant in the Listed James Seymour Stakes at Newmarket in late October.
And he certainly didn’t look out of place as he made his group debut at Sandown, Ryan Moore easing him to victory in that aforementioned Brigadier.
The next stop for Bay Bridge is Royal Ascot, and following that Group 3 victory, his odds of winning the prestigious Prince Of Wales’s Stakes have been slashed from 20/1 into the 5/2 favorite ahead of 2021 derby winning Adayar.
The four-year-old also holds an entry in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes on the last day of Ascot, but Wigan claims it’s more likely that Bay Bridge will be kept over a mile and a quarter instead of being up in trip to 1m4f, while Moore believes he has every right to take part in the second day’s feature contest.
“He seems to have stepped forward every time and you’d be hopeful he will carry on doing that,” the jockey said. “He’s entitled to [go for a Group 1], he beat some very solid horses there, so hopefully there’s plenty to look forward to.”
It will be interesting to see how Bay Bridge fares in Group 1 company, especially against Adayar — although the Charlie Appleby horse’s form has dipped somewhat since Ascot last year and he hasn’t reappeared this season. Certainly, one to watch though.