“I pressed the button,” Jim Crowley said after finishing fourth aboard Baaeed in the Champion Stakes on Saturday, “and it just wasn’t there.”

It was a simple elegy for what will still be remembered as an outstanding career, one that saw Baaeed carry all before him until this first defeat in 11 starts. But there was no denying the bitter disappointment, both for the colt’s connections and many thousands of fans in the stands, that he will not retire to stud as an unbeaten champion.

Instead, it was the 10-1 shot Bay Bridge, trained by 76-year-old Sir Michael Stoute, who led them home, with Adayar, last year’s Derby winner, and My Prospero, a stable companion of Baaeed at William Haggas’s Newmarket yard, filling the frame, on a Champions Day that started well for the punters, with three winning favourites, but concluded with three shock results.

“It is deflating, but he is still a good horse,” Haggas said. “I’m sad he didn’t win for him and his connections, as well as all the people at the yard who have worked tirelessly to get him here. There you go, it’s horse racing.”

Fingers immediately pointed towards the Ascot turf after Baaeed’s unexpected defeat.

“Jim said he just could not quicken when he pulled him out,” said Angus Gold, racing manager to Sheikha Hissa al-Maktoum, Baaeed’s owner. “He simply couldn’t quicken on that ground like he has on faster ground.

“I’m sad that he hasn’t gone out unbeaten but he’s still given us some fantastic days.”

The going was officially good-to-soft, soft in places, and so not too far removed from the good-to-soft on which Baaeed won the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on this day last year. That race, though, is staged on the straight mile, where the drainage is much improved since the track was relaid about 15 years ago. Saturday’s contest, over another two furlongs, was on the round course, the majority of which was soft according to the track’s going map, and there was no point at which Baaeed looked likely to justify his cramped odds.

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