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Order of St George and Big Orange all set to clash again

19 Oct 2017

The first two home in the Ascot Gold Cup are set to renew their rivalry on Saturday

QIPCO British Champions Day features several intriguing rematches, none of them more eagerly anticipated than the second clash between Big Orange and Order Of St George in the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup.

The pair had an epic battle in a compelling Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in June, Big Orange prevailing by a short head. He subsequently made a valiant attempt to win a third successive Qatar Goodwood Cup, beating all bar Stradivarius, while Order Of St George has since gained a second runaway win in the Irish St Leger and been fourth to Enable in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Stradivarius, a close third in the William Hill St Leger since his defeat of Big Orange at Goodwood, also features among the 13 declared for the Group 2 two-mile feature. Dartmouth, owned by The Queen, won the Betway Yorkshire Cup by a neck in May, has been supplemented and is seeking to give Her Majesty a first QIPCO British Champions Day winner.

Sheikhzayedroad, winner of the Long Distance Cup last year, will defend his crown and Desert Skyline, the Doncaster Cup winner add great depth.

WHAT THEY SAY:

John Warren, Racing Manager for Her Majesty The Queen, owner of Dartmouth:
“It seemed to be the obvious race for him when the Queen doesn’t get many opportunities to see her horses race through the year, so we decided that it made sense to go for a race like this. Hopefully he runs up to expectation.

“He’s run some very good races at Ascot and obviously loves the track. He acts on any going and we are not concerned about any conditions that he could encounter.

“We still have no idea why he didn’t run well [in Ireland] last time but he came out of the race well and has been in very good form since, so he is taking his chance. He’s a tough, hardy horse who we know stays well.

“He stays in training next year. He’s so versatile and we will look at all options between a mile and a half to two miles, including internationally. It’s nice to have a horse owned by the Queen where the trainer has options. He’s been great fun and given the Queen a lot of pleasure.”

Tim Gredley, son of Bill Gredley, the owner of Big Orange, said:
“I saw him work the other day and he’s in great form. It’s half a mile less than for the Gold Cup but he has won two Groups 2 races over a mile and a half, so that is not a worry.

“For a big horse he is actually quite sensitive and he got a little bit lit up with all the other horses around him staying overnight [when an intended runner in the Prix du Cadran at Chantilly last time].

“The ground also went against him. Between that and the night before it was the best decision not to run him and head for Champions Day.”

Bill Gredley, owner of Big Orange, added:
“I’d rather take on Order Of St George at two miles, than two-and-a-half miles. I just think Big Orange is better over that trip but we will soon find out, won’t we?”

Aidan O’Brien, trainer of Order Of St George:
“He ran very well in it last year [when fourth] when the line came a bit too soon. There’s been an extra week between the Arc and Champions Day this time and that would not be a disadvantage. We’ve been delighted with him all year and he looks to have very good chance.”