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Big Orange is simply golden after pipping rival to the line in thriller

 

By Graham Clark

Only the very best racehorses can be labelled "colossal" but that seemed just about the perfect description for Big Orange after he landed an Ascot Gold Cup that will live long in the memory.

Few wear their heart on their sleeves more than the Michael Bell-trained six-year-old and after several attempts he finally gained the Group One victory his talents deserved, serving up a finish of epic proportions having missed the race 12 months ago due to soft ground.

Although Quest For More took the field along through the early stages of the two-and-a-half-mile contest, an inspired James Doyle - standing in for the injured Frankie Dettori - sent his mount into a lead he was not to surrender with a full circuit to go.

Turning for home, the 5-1 shot was still well in control of matters as stamina became an issue for many, with the exception of Aidan O'Brien's odds-on favourite Order Of St George, who under a patient Ryan Moore began his charge from the back.

As the pair pulled clear, it looked like last year's winner was going to repeat the dose, but with one final effort Big Orange demonstrated the size of his heart and desire to win in getting the verdict by a short head.

Bell said: "He is just an absolute superstar and gives his all. He has a heart as big as himself and I can't praise his attitude enough. He wants to race and is a colossal racehorse, and on fast ground in the height of a summer he is a monster.

"I was very happy throughout the race, I thought James Doyle was in total charge of the situation and I was very happy. I was praying for the winning post."

He went on: "It is the feature race of the meeting. It is an epic race, we were taking on a very good horse and beating him in a proper race. I can't tell you the pride I have in him."

Bell ruled out the prospect of a third tilt at the Melbourne Cup, with an attempt at claiming a hat-trick of wins in the newly-upgraded Group One Goodwood Cup next on the agenda.

He said: "He will head to Goodwood and won't run before then. He is not going to the Melbourne Cup, that's for sure.

"He could come back here on Champions Day or he could go for Cadran. He will go where the ground is fast."

O'Brien will let the dust settle before making any future plans for Order Of St George, although a rematch at Goodwood is a possibility. He said: "He's run a very good race. I'm not sure where he'll go next. We'll see how he is.

"The Gold Cup is one of those special races. The winner was very good and brave.

"Goodwood is a Group One now, so is obviously a possible."

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