Big Orange tees up Melbourne trip

Big Orange teed himself up for a crack at the Melbourne Cup as he continued his improvement with a gutsy win in a three-way finish to a thrilling Qatar Goodwood Cup yesterday.

Big Orange tees up Melbourne trip

Michael Bell’s four-year-old had won a Group Two over a mile and a half at Newmarket last time out, a performance which earned him a higher official rating than Ascot Gold Cup winner Trip To Paris.

Ed Dunlop’s consistent stayer had a 4lb penalty to contend with this time and ultimately it made the difference between winning and losing, although he lost nothing in defeat, proving his Gold Cup win was not a fluke.

Also in the shake up was Roger Charlton’s Northumberland Plate hero Quest For More and he handled the step up to Group company with aplomb but was just beaten in a photo by a neck, with a short head back to Trip To Paris.

“He is an absolute star, this horse. He’s so genuine and is a pleasure to train. I can’t sing his praises highly enough,” said Bell.

“He was officially the highest-rated horse in the race so if he stayed, he could win it and Jamie (Spencer) gave him an absolutely masterful ride.

“I think Melbourne is the plan. He obviously stays two miles and he’s got the boot to win a Group Two over a mile and a half, so I would say he ticks a lot of the boxes.”

Paddy Power gave Big Orange a 25-1 quote for Melbourne.

Melbourne is also still an option for Trip To Paris, while runner-up Quest For More is set to revert to handicap company for the Ebor with Charlton feeling he does not posses the necessary speed for Australia.

John Gosden’s stellar season got better when Shalaa, already an easy winner of the July Stakes at Newmarket, was even more impressive in the Qatar Richmond Stakes.

The juvenile showed great early speed and had burned off his rivals with a furlong to run, allowing Frankie Dettori to coast home to beat Tasleet by two and three-quarter lengths.

He was a second two-year-old winner of the meeting for Sheikh Joaan’s Al Shaqab Racing. Gosden warned punters not to back him for next year’s 2000 Guineas, though.

“He’s beaten them three lengths giving 3lb — the Morny will be next and then the Middle Park. He’s fast, I’m not going to take him to seven furlongs.

“Next year, the Commonwealth Cup (8-1 with Paddy Power) is for him. I don’t see him as a miler, I see him staying at six. He enjoys sprinting, so let him sprint.”

Harry Bentley landed his second win of the meeting when Ralph Beckett’s Special Verse stepped up markedly to win the Markel Insurance Fillies’ Stakes, better known as the Lillie Langtry Stakes.

Sent off 11-1, she was carrying the Qatar Racing second cap but travelled smoothly and comfortably held off Godolphin’s Hidden Gold.

Beckett will consider the possibility of supplementing her for the Ladbrokes St Leger or run her in the Park Hill Stakes at the same meeting.

“She’s definitely a Park Hill filly anyway so we will see how we go from there but that would be the obvious race for her,” he said.

“We will see (about supplementing her for the St Leger). I was really pleased with her. It (the Leger) is a race we’ve been placed in with fillies in the past so we will see how we go.

Richard Hughes can “retire a happy man” after opening his account at this year’s Glorious Goodwood on Gibeon (11-1) in the Land Rover Stakes.

The champion jockey bows out tomorrow to begin a training career and after a couple of frustrating near-misses on the first two days of the meeting, he looked destined to go without at his favourite track.

Sent off 11-1, Gibeon, trained by Hughes’s brother-in-law Richard Hannon, just held off the fast finish of 4-1 favourite Keble by a neck.

“I’m glad I’ve got one, I can retire a happy man now,” said Hughes.

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