Newmarket trainer Michael Bell won’t confirm a start for Big Orange in the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 1 until the weights are released in early September.
Big Orange won his second Group 2 £300,000 QATAR Goodwood Cup (2 miles) at Goodwood in England on Thursday and Bell is concerned that the Racing Victoria’s Handicapper could punish him with too much weight which would give the English trainer second thoughts of making another trip to Melbourne this year.
Big Orange ran a mighty race at $61 when only beaten two and a half lengths when fifth to Prince Of Penzance in the 2015 Melbourne Cup with 55.5kg and Bell can’t see him finishing any closer if he has to carry something around the 57kg mark.
“Bill (Gredley, co-owner) is not so keen on it but (son) Tim is very keen and I am quite keen, although I think we need to see what weight he gets before we commit,” Bell said.
“The Melbourne Cup is a handicap so there is no point flying round the world if you think you’ve got too much weight. I’ve got to talk to Bill but I think we will make the entry.
“The Caulfield Cup is also a handicap so that’s an option but we would have to see what he is rated. I doubt his rating will go up today but we had 55.5kg last year and if we start going up to say 57kg it would start making it difficult.
“He has got the attitude to do it. Apart from winning the Derby here, I enjoyed the Melbourne experience more than any other experience I have had on a racecourse so we might go back if we feel we could trouble the judge.”
Top English jockey Jamie Spencer rode Big Orange in both his Goodwood Cup wins as well as his Melbourne Cup fifth and can see the five year old stayer being competitive if he made a return trip for Australia’s greatest race but added that he wouldn’t be suited at Caulfield in the Group 1 $3m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m).
“I can see no reason why he wouldn’t run a big race in the Melbourne Cup again,” Spencer said.
“A race like the Caulfield Cup wouldn’t suit him, though, as it’s an extremely tight track. He’s a horse that likes to gallop.”
Big Orange has continued to race well following his Melbourne Cup fifth with two placings and two wins from four starts.
The Duke Of Marmalade gelding finished second in the Group 2 US$1m Dubai Gold Cup (3200m) ay Meydan in Dubai on March 26 then returned home to Newmarket for a third in the Group 2 £100,000 Dunaden At Overbury Jockey Club Stakes (1 mile, 4 furlongs) on April 30.
Following a short break Big Orange returned to the winner’s stall in the Group 2 £100,000 Princess Of Wales’s Arqana Racing Club Stakes (1 mile, 4 furlongs) on July 7 before winning his second Goodwood Cup.
Big Orange has been elevated to $17 for the Melbourne Cup with Ladbrokes.com.au alongside of 2015 Melbourne Cup runner up Max Dynamite and the Darren Weir trained Signoff while the Aidan O’Brien trained Order Of St George remains at the top of the market order at $11.