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Bell hoping Big Orange will again bear fruit

26 Jul 2016

Trainer says his imposing five-year-old is in great order for Goodwood Cup defence

Big Orange

Big Orange powers to victory at Newmarket this month. Picture: Racingfotos.com

Michael Bell says Big Orange is in peak condition ahead of his attempt to join an elite band of dual Qatar Goodwood Cup winners on Thursday.

The five-year-old dug deep to edge out Quest For More and Trip To Paris in a thrilling finish to the two-mile contest on the Sussex Downs last year.

He will emulate exalted stayers such as Le Moss, Further Flight, Double Trigger, Persian Punch and Yeats if successful in a £300,000 feature, which forms part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.

Big Orange limbered up for his defence by making all in the Group 2 Princess Of Wales’s Arqana Racing Club Stakes for the second successive year at Newmarket this month and his Derby-winning trainer says his stable flagbearer has taken those exertions in his stride.

“Visually it was a career-best and the handicapper agrees – he’s on a career-high mark now of 117 and you could argue he should be a little bit higher on some form lines,” he said

“It was a good effort and he certainly does not look to have gone backwards. He didn’t lose much weight and obviously there was no travelling involved. It makes it much easier when you are playing at home.

“We are the highest-rated in the race and he deserves to be favourite provided the rain stays away. He’s very effective on fast ground.”

Big Orange is, as his name implies, an imposing unit and Bell believes that he is not yet the finished article in terms of build.

“The bigger the horse the longer they take to fill their frame, just like a human,” he said. “He will probably be at his optimum physically as a six or seven-year-old but then it’s a question of whether the engine is as good.

“He’s probably ten kilos heavier than when winning the race last year, so he is a slightly bigger, stronger-framed horse. He’s a bus, but an absolute christian.”

Jamie Spencer deserted Big Orange to ride The Grey Gatsby in the Princess Of Wales’s Arqana Racing Club Stakes.

Spencer was left to rue that decision – The Grey Gatsby was a two and a half length runner-up – but he will be back on board. “Judas has come back into the fold,” a smiling Bell said.

Quest For More, Pallasator (fourth), Sheikhzayedroad (sixth) and Oriental Fox (seventh) finished behind Big Orange 12 months ago but are back for another crack at him.

The opposition also includes three horses who were successful at Royal Ascot last month – Sword Fighter (Queen’s Vase), Commissioned (Queen Alexandra Stakes) and Kinema (Duke of Edinburgh Stakes).

Sword Fighter, trained by Aidan O’Brien, has since followed up in the Group 2 Coral Cup at the Curragh.

O’Brien has already saddled the winners of five QIPCO British Champions Series races this year via Minding, Order Of St George, Alice Springs and Highland Reel.

Another flying the flag for Ireland is the Willie Mullins-trained Wicklow Brave, a smart dual purpose performer who was touched off by Dartmouth in the Boodles Diamond Ormonde Stakes at Chester on his penultimate smart.

The progressive Curbyourenthusiasm, a late withdrawal from the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, has his first start since finishing half a length second to Clever Cookie in the Betway Yorkshire Cup at York in May.

The grey had Suegioo, a regular in the top staying events, and Glaring well adrift on that occasion.

Sandro Botticelli was having only his seventh start when game short-head winner of the Coral Marathon at Sandown this month, when Astronereus was among the supporting cast.

The Twisler, who beat one home in the Gold Cup, completes the field.