Newmarket horseman Michael Bell has described his Melbourne Cup 2015 raider Big Orange as a “very happy horse” down under ahead of his bid at next Tuesday’s two mile classic at Flemington.
The Melbourne Cup Carnival kicks off with Derby Day on Saturday, the countdown well and truly on for this year’s $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) on November 3.
The 24-starter Melbourne Cup field is released along with the barrier draw for the ‘race that stops a nation’ on Saturday post-racing live from Flemington, with Bell’s British visitor Big Orange assured of a spot in the starting line-up.
A five-year-old by Australian racing standards, the Duke Of Marmalade gelding sits eighth on the latest Melbourne Cup order of entry allocated 55.5kg.
That is an exact weight carried to victory by three Melbourne Cup winners in the past 30 years with the very first internationally-trained champion Vintage Crop (1993), Saintly (1996) and Makybe Diva for her second in 2004.
A winner of five of his 13 starts to date, including one from three over the Melbourne Cup distance, Big Orange goes into the iconic Flemington Race 7 on the first Tuesday of November without a previous run down under.
Two back he posted a victory carrying a hefty 61kg over fellow Melbourne Cup hopeful Quest For More in the Group 2 Goodwood Cup (3219m) before a seventh at York in the Group 2 Lonsdale Cup (3300m) on August 21.
In the latest Melbourne Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au, who are giving away a Ford Ranger plus a boat and motorbike in their incredible ‘Melbourne Cup Prize Draw’ open right now, Big Orange is only rated a 41/2 chance.
Markets are led by Japan’s Fame Game ($3.80) who is at a firming price to salute for the faovuirte for the third time since 2005 after the withdrawal of Caulfield Cup winner Mongolian Khan with colic this week.
Bell is happy for his chance to fly under the radar leading up to Melbourne Cup Day and is more than happy with the horse’s condition and attitude since arriving in Australia.
“He’s a bit of a worrier in his box at home but he seems very happy here,” he told The Telegraph speaking about the stayer who also has hurdle form back in the UK that the Aussie punters can find hard to do the form on.
“He’s a very, very happy horse, he’s got stacks of ability, he stays, he likes fast ground, he goes left handed. He ticks a lot of boxes.”
Runner-up in the Caulfield Cup over the mile and half on October 17 was the Ed Dunlop-trained Trip To Paris, stablemate of triple Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux who is $26 for his fifth straight shot in the classic, who is now the $8 second pick in the pre-field Melbourne Cup markets.
Big Orange however boasts winning form over the Caulfield Cup second placegetter who was third in the Goodwood Cup over the same distance as the Melbourne Cup.
That’s a nice tick according to Bell who is happy to make excuses for his unplaced run at York last time out on an unsuitably soft track when well-beaten by another top Melbourne Cup fancy Max Dynamite ($15).
“He ran at York earlier in the season and ran no race, so it’s a combination of factors,” Bell said.
“It could just be that he doesn’t like York, although it’s not a particularly unusual track.
“Personally I think he had to dig deep in the Princess Of Wales’s Stakes and again he had a tough race at Goodwood. Maybe it was one race too soon.”
While going into the race with a degree of confidence, Bell also sees Trip To Paris as a big danger with only 55kg.
“The European form makes more sense to me, but Trip To Paris is a well-handicapped horse,” he said.
“He’s an Ascot Gold Cup winner running off a rating of 113. The Gold Cup winner is normally rated 118-odd, I think he’s on a very good mark, potentially.”
To back your early Melbourne Cup selections before the markets firm on the weekend visit Ladbrokes.com.au now who are also Best Tote or SP + 20% at Flemington on all nine Derby Day races on Saturday!