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Michael Bell’s progressive stayer Big Orange secured a Melbourne Cup 2015 target down under this spring with an impressive win over fellow Victorian-bound Trip To Paris who ran third in the Goodwood Cup overnight.
Run just after midnight on Friday morning (AEST), the Group 2 Qatar Goodwood Cup (3200m) saw Duke Of Marmalade four-year-old Big Orange (6/1) lead for the first three furlongs before tracking the leader.
His hoop Jamie Spencer took the horse back to the front a little over a furlong from the line and the gallant galloper was just able to hold on and defeat the fast-finishing favourite Quest For More (9/2) from Roger Charlton’s stables by a neck.
Finishing off the Goodwood Cup trifecta in third was then the Ed Dunlop-trained Trip To Paris (5/1), the last start Ascot Gold Cup winner just a short head further back after getting held up mid-race and feeling the two kilogram penalty this time round.
The victory was the second on the trot for Big Orange who came off a Group 2 success in the Princess Of Wales’s Stakes (2414m) as a 25/1 outsider at Newmarket last time out.
“He is an absolute star, this horse. He’s so genuine and is a pleasure to train. I can’t sing his praises highly enough,” Bell told the media post-win.
In another improved effort, his Goodwood Cup win has further secured plans to head to Australia this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival and target the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m).
“I think Melbourne is the plan. He obviously stays two miles and he’s got the boot to win a Group Two over a mile and a half, so I would say he ticks a lot of the boxes,” Bell confirmed.
Run over the same distance as the Melbourne Cup at Flemington Racecourse on the first Tuesday of November, the Goodwood Cup has proved a good guide to the ‘race that stops a nation’ in recent years.
Current pre-nomination Melbourne Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au have the Yoshitada Munakata-trained Japanese stayer Fame Game as the clear $13 favourite following confirmation from connections this week that the galloper was a certain contender.
“We know just how impressive these Japanese stayers are, so it was fantastic to receive confirmation overnight from Sunday Racing co. that Fame Game would be contesting the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups,” Racing Victoria’s international talent scout Leigh Jordon said on Thursday.
Big Orange is a little further down the futures Melbourne Cup betting markets at $26, still behind Trip To Paris ($21) who had excuses for the close Goodwood Cup third.
“I just wonder whether he did hit the front and then he just wandered around a little bit which can happen at Goodwood. Obviously at Ascot he had the rail to run up,” Dunlop said of the run.
“I will have to ask the owners, but they are very keen to go to Melbourne and it will be interesting to see what weight Mr Bell’s horse has going to Melbourne as well.
“We could well go there, we’ll see but whether it’s a year too soon, I don’t know, but it will be considered.”
Along with Champs Elysees four-year-old Trip To Paris, Dunlop will also bring veteran warhorse Red Cadeaux down under for his incredible fifth Melbourne Cup assignment.
A rising 10-year-old, Red Cadeaux has run second in the world’s richest handicap a record three times most recently behind German raider Protectionist last spring.
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