Glorious Goodwood 2015: Orange books big ticket for Aussie stayers’ prize

Bell’s winner is bound for Melbourne after outbattling Goodwood Cup rivals

Click to follow
The Independent Online

“See yer there, mate!” Trainer Michael Bell left nobody in any doubt about where he is going to be on the first Tuesday in November – in Australia for a crack at the Melbourne Cup with Big Orange, who stuck out his long neck to win a thrilling Goodwood Cup yesterday.

“I can’t think of a reason why not,” said Bell. “He goes on any ground, he has the boot for a mile and a half and he stays two miles, which we always thought he would, so he ticks a lot of the boxes for the race. I’ve got lots of friends in Australia and I’m really looking forward to going out there with him.”

One thing’s for sure, there will be few, if any, tougher lining up in Melbourne than Big Orange, a different gelding since being fitted with cheekpieces for the first time at Newmarket three weeks ago when he sprang a 25-1 surprise in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes.

Assailed on either side by Quest For More, the Northumberland Plate winner, and Trip To Paris, who was attempting to become the first to complete the Ascot-Goodwood Cup double since Yeats in 2008, Big Orange would simply not give best and held on by a neck and a short-head.

Trip To Paris had already booked his ticket to Melbourne with his Ascot triumph, while Quest For More is staying at home for the Ebor Handicap at York next month, for which he remains one of the co-favourites.

“It was a privilege to be involved in such a spectacular race like that and you have to give equal credit to Quest For More and even more to Trip To Paris, because he was giving us weight,” Bell acknowledged.

If the two-miler produced the sort of ending one would normally associate more with a sprint, the six-furlong Richmond Stakes was more like the conclusion of a two-miler as Shalaa, a 60th Glorious Goodwood winner for Frankie Dettori, sauntered clear of Tasleet and Steady Pace to confirm his standing as one of the season’s top juveniles.

Also an impressive winner of Newmarket’s July Stakes, Shalaa, continuing a fine week for owners Al Shaqab Racing and Goodwood’s Qatar sponsors, now has the Prix Morny at Deauville next month and the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket in September in his sights and his trainer, John Gosden, has every intention of keeping him to sprinting next year.

“Don’t be tempted by any 2,000 Guineas prices,” he warned. “I don’t see him as a miler. He’s fast and I would imagine his main target next year would be the wonderful new Group One at Royal Ascot, the Commonwealth Cup. He enjoys sprinting, so let him sprint.

“It’s great to see a horse cruising like that for so long. With him it’s a case of, ‘If you can come with me, come with me. If you can’t, goodbye’. There were some good horses behind and you could see the jockeys’ elbows working away from some way out. He’s carried a 3lb penalty and won by almost three lengths, so that was good.”

Gosden has been digesting the message from Ballydoyle that the 2,000 Guineas winner Gleneagles might take on the Derby victor Golden Horn in the Juddmonte International at York next month. “That’s definitely the plan for Golden Horn. What anybody else does is none of my business,” said Gosden. “But I’d be all for it. It’s what racing needs.

“On reflection, Golden Horn has been on the go for a while with the Feilden, the Dante, the Derby and the Eclipse, so maybe missing the King George [at Ascot last Saturday] was a blessing in disguise. It’s given us a chance to freshen him up a bit. We’ve had to let him down because we had built him up, physically and mentally, but luckily he’s a bit of a laid-back dude.”

Richard Hughes avoided the anticlimax of a winnerless final Glorious Goodwood before his retirement by landing yesterday’s opener aboard Gibeon for Richard Hannon. The victory, which Hughes greeted with a clenched-fist salute, clearly meant a lot to the jockey, who has been champion for the last three seasons. “I can retire a happy man now,” he beamed.

Hughes, who has partnered more than 2,250 winners, has his final ride on top weight Fox Trotter in tomorrow’s Qatar Handicap. He has six booked mounts during the afternoon, including Ninjago for Hannon in the Stewards’ Cup.