NO-ONE could have predicted Baaeed's career would end like this.
The unbeaten superstar – sent off at odds of 1-4 to end his career with a perfect record – flopped in spectacular fashion in the Champion Stakes.
The four-year-old looked a shadow of himself as he trailed home in fourth place under Jim Crowley, nearly two lengths behind the 10-1 winner Bay Bridge.
A huge crowd of 25,000 was on hand at Ascot to give him a hearty send-off, and there was a fizz of anticipation in the air as the runners went down to the start.
But there was a deafening silence as they crossed the line, as though someone had let all of the air out of a balloon.
Both Crowley and trainer William Haggas wore a slightly confused expression after the race and could only offer the tacky ground as an excuse.
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Haggas said: "It is sad he didn't win but that is the way it is. He has been a brilliant horse, he didn't show that today but you can't take anything away from him.
"I'm sad for everyone here and everyone watching at home that he didn't come here and go out with a bang.
"The ground wasn't ideal but he just wasn't at his best today.
"We have been so lucky to have him and we have some incredible memories because of him. He will be missed."
Crowley added: "I just felt like he couldn't pick up on the ground. It's disappointing not to win but he has been a sensational horse."
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Punters were equally shocked by the result and reacted with amazement on social media.
One said: "That has to be one of the biggest anti-climaxes of all time."
Another said: "I guess we can stop with the Frankel comparisons now."
While another posted: "What happened? I did not see that coming at all."
Winning trainer Sir Michael Stoute even admitted he thought Baaeed was unbeatable.
He said: "Coming here I thought the favourite was unbeatable, but I thought we had a great chance of finishing second because he was coming here in great shape.
"I hope William and I are still friends tomorrow!"
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