By Simon Jackson.
The Melbourne Cup is the target for Big Orange who narrowly prevailed in a three-way finish from Quest For More and Trip To Paris in the Group 2 Goodwood Cup.
The Michael Bell-trained winner showed plenty of fight under Jamie Spencer to battle back to score by a neck after he was headed near the finish and is quoted at 25-1 (Stan James) for the Melbourne Cup on the first Tuesday in November.
Big Orange appears likely to be joined in Melbourne by Ascot Gold Cup winner Trip To Paris who was a further short head back in third and is also available at 25-1 for Melbourne with the same firm.
Trip To Paris carried a 4lb penalty for the Royal Ascot win and briefly looked as if he would defy it when he hit the front 100 metres from the finish, only to be headed near the line.
“It was thrilling to be involved in a race like that,” said Bell. “All three horses deserve great credit, especially Trip To Paris with his penalty. Big Orange is an absolute star – he is so genuine and a pleasure to train – and I can’t sing his praises highly enough.
“He was officially the highest-rated horse in the race so, if he stayed, he could win it and Jamie gave him an absolutely masterful ride. He got a breather into him and it was a very good ride on a very good horse.
“Bill [Gredley, owner] is so enthusiastic and he knows his horses inside out. When you breed them, I think it is extra special. Any owner-breeder knows that, when they welcome the horses that they have raised at home, it makes it extra special.
“Melbourne is very much the plan for Big Orange. We know he stays the trip now, which we always thought he would, he has got the boot to win a Group 2 over a mile and a half and he goes on any ground. I would say he ticks a lot of the boxes.
“The Grand Prix de Deauville was the plan after this but he has had a hard race today, so we will have to see how he is. The Lonsdale Cup at York is also an option because he has no penalty in that.”
Penalties were also to the forefront of the mind of Trip To Paris’ trainer Ed Dunlop who is eager to see the weights for the Melbourne Cup after his charge was narrowly beaten when conceding 4lbs to the first two.
“I have been whinging about the 4lb penalty but he had it for a reason – he won the Gold Cup,” Dunlop said. “I think the track and the penalty probably beat us. I just wonder if he hit the front and then wandered around a bit, which can happen at Goodwood. At Ascot, he had the rail to run along.
“He can only get better and the owners are very keen to go to Melbourne. It will be interesting to see what weight Mr Bell’s horse [Big Orange] has as well. We could well go there but we will see – I don’t know whether it is a year too soon, but it will be considered.”
Meanwhile Quest For More was given a 10/1 quote for next month’s Ebor by Paddy Power.
Read ‘Horse Talk with Simon Jackson’ at London24 for the latest horse racing news.