'It's a funny old game' - 33-1 Bayside Boy strikes as Inspiral blows the start
Saturday: Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Ascot
Just when he thought his luck had all dried up, Roger Varian pulled the most unlikely Group 1 winner from his proverbial hat as Bayside Boy showed a ferocious turn of foot to land a convincing success in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
Varian has a knack of finding big-race winners in the autumn, but after watching St Leger hero Eldar Eldarov put in a lacklustre display in the Long Distance Cup and last year's winner Eshaada finish fourth in the Fillies & Mares Stakes, he was looking for a miracle.
Step forward Bayside Boy, not far off the best of his generation at two but until now unable to match the best of his juvenile form.
Sent off at 33-1 as a result, the odds were stacked against him, but with the soft ground in his favour, he left his rivals reeling with a final burst that carried him to a length-and-a-quarter success over Modern Games, with the supplemented Jadoomi a further short head away in third.
"It's a funny old game," said Varian with a schoolboy smirk. "I need to watch it again. I was shouting [eventual fifth] El Drama home. I thought he had a huge chance with two to run and then I see Bayside coming. Then he went whoosh!
"It was a slowly run race and looked almost impossible to come from the back, but he was very good.
"I'm not going to say I thought he'd win, but I thought he was a lively outsider. He had very good juvenile form and we had high hopes for him this season, but he really didn't enjoy the firm ground in the summer."
Varian was more intent on enjoying the moment than discussing plans, but was hopeful Bayside Boy would be back next season.
"I'm delighted for the owners, Teme Valley and Ballylinch Stud, who have been very patient," he said. "He won very nicely last time at Sandown which was a good confidence-booster for the horse. I'm delighted with him today and I'm looking forward to watching it again!"
What the future holds for Inspiral – sent off the 11-10 favourite but always on the back foot after a tardy start before finishing a never-nearer sixth under Frankie Dettori – looks less clear at this stage, with her rider perplexed by what happened as the stalls opened.
"I went into the stalls second last, I was barely in there ten seconds, but when the gates opened she didn't want to come out," said her rider, who was chasing a hat-trick of Group 1 wins on the day.
"It was a bizarre moment. The whole field went and I found myself last with a filly who needs cover. I was stuck behind some outsiders and they went slow. I tried to creep into the race, but it was gone at the start.
"I don't know why she did it, it's the first time she did it and we were always playing catch-up. Being drawn on the outside was a problem, a small field with no pace is another problem, so things didn't work out.
"She's won two Group 1s, they're not machines and sometimes they under-perform. It's been a good day but that left a sour taste."
The Breeders' Cup Mile beckons for both Modern Games and Jadoomi, who served up a thriller for second.
Charlie Appleby, trainer of Modern Games, said: "William Buick said he tried his heart out but he just couldn't get his feet out the ground. We'll head to the Breeders' Cup."
Ed Crisford, joint-trainer of Jadoomi, added: "At the one pole I thought it was ours, but Bayside Boy was finishing too well. Our horse has definitely improved again and there's no reason why he can't keep on improving.
"After that I think the Breeders' Cup has to be on the radar. He needs a bit of cut in the ground, but good ground would be fine in Keeneland at that time of the year."
'It was ground, simple as that' - Baaeed's unbeaten record ended by Bay Bridge
Where did it go wrong for Baaeed as his sublime career ends in defeat?
'I'm not retiring!' - Dettori doubles up after emphatic Emily Upjohn Ascot win
'It was a proper battle' - Trueshan holds on to complete Champions Day hat-trick
Ascot erupts as Frankie Dettori and Kinross cruise home in Champions Sprint
Have you tried the new Racing Post app? Its new game-changing odds comparison allows you to check the price and place terms all on one simple screen. Make sure you get the best price on all your bets! The new app is available here.