Stoute hoping Bay Bridge can play his part in ‘high-class’ Eclipse
Connections of Bay Bridge know the magnitude of the task facing the colt as he bids to add a Group One success to his burgeoning CV in Saturday’s Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.
With five Group One winners, three Classic winners and Bay Bridge who was superb over course and distance in the Brigadier Gerard, the midsummer showpiece is one of the strongest renewals in recent years.
Bay Bridge, from the first crop of foals sired by Prix du Jockey Club winner New Bay, was beaten a length by State Of Rest in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot on his latest run and trainer Sir Michael Stoute knows this looks an equally tough race.
“It is a very high-class Eclipse,” said Stoute. “It is a very tough race, but our fella seems in good shape.
“I would not make any excuses for Ascot. He ran a big race there and we’d have to be very pleased with his performance. He has taken it all in his stride and we’re hoping he runs his race again.”
Ballylinch Stud bought into the James Wigan-owned four-year-old and their managing director, John O’Connor, feels that course experience may help the four-year-old, who will again be ridden by Ryan Moore.
“It is an unusually strong race,” he said. “Ascot didn’t quite work out, but those things can happen.
“He looked a Group One horse at Sandown, but he needs to go back and do it again. It is a very competitive race and whoever wins will have had to put up a very big performance.
“He is a talented horse and let’s hope he can put it together and win a Group One.”
Mishriff, who has won over £11million in prize-money, has not been seen since disappointing in defence of his Saudi Cup title on dirt.
Yet he remains a potent threat if reproducing a similar level of form to that which he showed in landing the Juddmonte International by six lengths at York last season.
Thady Gosden, who trains in partnership with his father, John, said: “He ran well in the Eclipse last year (when finishing third), but he just got a bit tired late on as it is a stiff finish at Sandown.
“This year it is an incredibly competitive race and most of the field have very good claims, and this is his first time out on UK soil, so we will have to see how he goes.
“There is a lot of depth to the race, but Mishriff has been there before and it is a race that fits well for him.
“It is the first time back for him in Britain and he is taking on horses that are tuned up and race fit, but it is a good place to start.”
The Gosden team also have Lord North, who was hugely unfortunate in the Prince of Wales’s when Frankie Dettori struggled to get his hood off in the stalls.
“I think the extended mile and a quarter at the Curragh in the Tattersalls Gold Cup on his penultimate start was a bit far for him,” added Gosden.
“They went hard in front and it was an unrelenting gallop and as you know, you have to stay well at the Curragh.
“You can put a line through his last run and what he has been showing at home he seems to be his same old self.”
Alenquer won the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh and trainer William Haggas has every faith in his ability.
“It’s going to be a great race and we’ll see how we get on,” said Haggas.
“He beat a Derby winner (Adayar) and a Breeders’ Cup winner (Yibir) the last time he went to Sandown, and he won the Tattersalls Gold Cup beating a Cox Plate and Prince of Wales’s winner (State Of Rest).
“Some may think he’s an outsider, but I don’t – he’s a good horse.”