Newmarket trainer Michael Bell has ruled out a third Melbourne Cup campaign for Big Orange who fought hard to record a narrow win in the Group 1 £400,000 Gold Cup (2 mile, 4 furlongs) on the third day of the five day Royal Ascot Carnival in England on Thursday.
Big Orange has been to Australia twice to run in the Group 1 $6m Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington to finish fifth to Prince Of Penzance in 2015 followed by a tenth to Almandin last year.
Bell will now head to Goodwood in early August to give Big Orange the chance to win his third Group 1 £500,000 Goodwood Cup (2 miles).
“He’ll head back to Goodwood and he won’t run again before then. He’s not going for the Melbourne Cup, that’s for sure as he’ll be rated 121 and so handicapped out of it,” Bell said.
“He could come back here for Champions Day, or he could go for the Cadran. He’ll go where the ground is fast.”
Winning Gold Cup jockey James Doyle was quick to give praise to Frankie Dettori for Big Orange’s tough winning performance after the champion jockey, who was the six year old’s regular rider, had to forego all his rides over the Royal Ascot Carnival because of a shoulder injury and offered Doyle some good tactical advice..
“Frankie is a real star and was on the phone for 20 minutes a couple of nights ago,” Doyle said.
“He said don’t interfere with him. He knows what speed he wants to go at, so you just sit as a passenger. I’d better buy him a drink – more than one probably!”
Doyle sat behind the early leader Quest For More in the early stages but he remembered what Dettori has said and let the big bay stroll to the front after going a couple of furlongs.
“We were a little bit concerned when we heard that Roger Charlton’s horse [Quest For More] was going to go on, and he led us for a couple of furlongs, but I was thinking ‘I’m interfering with him, and I shouldn’t be’ and so let him go to the front and he pricked his ears nicely.
“He got a little bit lonely out in front and I think if something had joined him sooner he would have won more impressively. It’s a long way to be in front and it’s plenty of time to be lonely, but Order Of George was just lugging into him and that gave him a wake-up call.
Doyle only knew he was to ride Big Orange in the Ascot Gold Cup only a couple of days prior when Dettori was ruled out of Royal Ascot late due to his bad shoulder and he was able to get the most of the tough stayer to hold on to record a nose win over Order Of St George who had gradually made up ground over the final stages.
“That was amazing. I didn’t know I was going to be on him until a couple of mornings ago and he’s a real people’s champ. It was just a pleasure to ride him. He’s a proper old-fashioned stayer who wears his heart on his sleeve. A real battle-heartened champion.”
Ladbrokes.com.au still have Big Orange listed in the 2017 Melbourne Cup market order at $21 behind Red Cardinal at $15 and Admire Deus and Francis Of Assisi at $17.
Early market order for the 2017 Melbourne Cup at Ladbrokes.com.au: $15 Red Cardinal, $17 Admire Deus, Francis Of Assisi, $21 Big Orange, Frontierman, Order Of St George, Thomas Hobson, Ventura Storm, Almandin, Beautiful Romance, Big Duke, Bondi Beach, Bonneval, Crocodile Rock, Gingernuts, Humidor, Manatee, Oceanographer, Our Century, Polarisation, Vazirabad, $34 or better the rest.