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Future remains bright for game Big Orange

28 Jul 2016

The Michael Bell-trained super stayer becomes the first since Yeats to win two Goodwood Cups.

Goodwood Cup

Here’s looking at you: Spencer admires Big Orange after the gelding had landed another Goodwood Cup. 

The Michael Bell-trained Big Orange became the first horse since Yeats to twice win the Qatar Goodwood Cup following a gutsy length and a quarter success.

The Jamie Spencer-ridden colt led throughout the two-mile contest, which forms part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.

Turning for home, the son of Duke Of Marmalade was still travelling well for Spencer despite horses lining up in behind ready to challenge the gelding. However, the five-year-old was not for passing and fended off the challenge of second-placed Pallasator and third-home Sheikhzayedroad.

A delighted Bell said: “Big Orange is a very brave horse. He gives his all. He has got as very good mind and engine and he has good limbs as well – that combination is a potent force.

“Big Orange is an enormous horse and big horses tend to mature with age. It is a bit of cliché but like a fine wine he is getting better with age. He is just a star and we are so lucky to have him. He has a massive stride and such a high cruising speed. Touch wood he is very clean limbed and loves this fast ground.

“I thought he was headed and said to Claire ‘he is beat’ but Jamie always knew he was going to win. We saw Big Orange at a breaking yard in the summer of his two-year-old career. Bill [Gredley, his owner] wasn’t going to send him in but this horse cantered by and we said ‘God, this horse moves well let’s give it a go’ and the rest is history.

“He was a very raw product as yearling and was a box-walker so he didn’t go to the sales as he would have made a ham sandwich. It’s great because he has now won a lot of prize money with still more to come. He won well today and won the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket by two lengths this year. Last year he won those races by a neck and half a length so you would have to say he has improved and I think the handicapper would probably say he has as well.”

As for the future, Bell suggested another trip to the Melbourne Cup, in which he finished a two and a half-length fifth last year was a possibility.

“I had a very easy race,” said Spencer. “He was bowling along in front nicely. I was a little bit concerned that the rain had got in the ground but, other than that, there were no worries.

“They just about matched him for pace between the three furlong pole and the last furlong but, when I gave him a smack, he took off again and that did for the rest of them. Last year, he was a very good horse but this year, he’s improved again.

“The fact that he has got stronger means that he can sustain his run a lot longer. They came at him a long way out but he was very strong at the finish. He’ll be better on very fast ground – on that sort of ground he can stretch away.”

Trainer Sir Mark Prescott was delighted with the performance of runner-up Pallasator.

“I thoroughly enjoyed watching it as we had this convoluted Prescott plan that came off perfectly,” said Prescott. “I’m lucky to have a jockey (Oisin Murphy) who could have carried it off perfectly too. From my point of view, it was a joy to watch. It’s just a shame that beastly thing kept on going! He’s an exam question this horse. There are always things to put right. Rosie (Jessop – who looks after Pallasator) really does deserve all the credit as she’s the only person in the world who likes him.

“He’s just a fascinating horse – if you like that sort of problem. He’s like one of those kids who throw their weight around in the pub until someone challenges them and then they back down. That’s exactly what he’s like. Just when I think I’ve worked him out, he keeps changing. I thought the winner was jolly good though.

“He’ll head back to Doncaster now. Placing is not the problem – it’s getting the best out of him. He’s been so horrible for so long but, rather like John McEnroe, everybody loves him now.”