Trainer hopes Big Orange won’t sour

HIGH HOPES: Big Orange
HIGH HOPES: Big Orange

Big Orange has a ‘good chance’ of winning today’s prestigious Gold Cup at Ascot, according to his trainer Michael Bell.

Bell is looking forward to the event at Royal Ascot, where the weather looks set to suit the six-year-old.

Big Orange is one of the most popular horses following a commanding win at Sandown last month in the Matchbook VIP Henry II Stakes.

He will line up in the Gold Cup as second favourite, despite the news on Tuesday that jockey Frankie Dettori has had to withdraw due to an arm injury, with James Doyle replacing the Italian in the saddle.

Newmarket-based trainer Bell said: “So sad to hear Frankie is out of action, but we’ve called upon super-sub James Doyle.

“Big Orange is a pretty smart horse and we want to see him give a good account of himself.

“If he does this, he has a good chance, he’s in very good form and won his last race at Sandown quite comfortably.

“He goes into the race with both form and confidence.

“The Gold Cup is a very prestigious race, all trainers want to win high-class races, but the Gold Cup is the principle race of Royal Ascot.

“It would certainly be a feather in our cap. As a trainer it’s important to continue to win the big events.”

Big Orange will line up against Aidan O’Brien’s Order of St George, last year’s winner and this year’s favourite to do it again.

“Order of St George is a high-class horse,” Bell added.

“I think he probably deserves to be favourite, he won’t be an easy horse to beat.

“But the weather is wonderful, and Big Orange likes fast ground, so it should suit him well.”

In recent years, the race has been dominated by O’Brien and in particular his runner Yeats, who won on a record four consecutive times between 2006 and 2009.

Run over a distance of two miles and four furlongs, the Group One race is one of the longest of the flat season and is a real test of stamina .

Big Orange’s co-owner Bill Gredley has also entered Ronald R into the following race, The Britannia Stakes Heritage Handicap, at 5pm.

n There was glory for Newmarket on day one of the meeting on Tuesday as Richard Spencer’s Rajasinghe landed the Group 2 Coventry Stakes in course-record time.

In a tense finish, Spencer’s two-year-old got to the line a head in front of Headway, with Murillo a neck further adrift in third.

“Words can’t describe how I feel, but he’s a top horse and we’ve liked him from day one,” said Spencer.