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Big Orange aiming to prove he is one in a million

26 Mar 2018

Michael Bell's seven-year-old staying star will start season in Dubai on Saturday.

Big Orange with owner Bill Gredley after the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot last year. Picture: Racingfotos.com

Big Orange will be trained with the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million in mind this season, his trainer Michael Bell confirmed on Monday.

The seven-figure sum will be awarded to the connections of any horse who wins one of four early-season staying prizes, followed by the Gold Cup, Qatar Goodwood Cup and Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup. The last three are all QIPCO British Champions Series races.

Big Orange, who will make his reappearance at Meydan on Saturday, has won the Goodwood Cup twice before and last year scooped the Gold Cup.

Bell said: “We’ve got to get Dubai out of the way first. We will get Dubai done and dusted and, all being well, go to Sandown (Henry II Stakes) and then Ascot for the Gold Cup.

“It won’t be easy for him to win the bonus because he is weather dependent. He needs the word firm in the going to be at his most effective.”

Big Orange’s victory over Order Of St George last summer was one of the races of the season, with James Doyle’s mount holding Aidan O’Brien’s charge by a short head in a pulsating finish.

He went on to be second to Stradivarius in the Goodwood Cup, before finishing down the field in the Long Distance Cup on Champions Day at Ascot.

Stradivarius, who went on to be placed in the William Hill St Leger and Long Distance Cup, also has the Gold Cup and Stayers’ Million on his agenda but John Gosden has yet to decide in which race he will reappear.

David Elsworth was also present at the Stayers’ Million launch and said Desert Skyline, who won the Doncaster Cup last term, would pursue the bonus. He is likely to return in the Longines Sagaro Stakes at Ascot.