Ascot Gold Cup winner Big Orange faces a weakened field and is to be reunited with Frankie Dettori as he seeks a third successive Qatar Goodwood Cup on Tuesday.
BIG ORANGE is out to create history by winning a third successive Qatar Goodwood Cup on Tuesday.
While Double Trigger won the race three times in the 1990s, there was a two-year gap between his first two triumphs.
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Michael Bell’s Big Orange has taken his form to a new level this season by winning the Gold Cup at Ascot and is also somewhat fortunate in that the Goodwood race has been upgraded to a Group One.
That means he does not have to shoulder a penalty for his Ascot win and, strictly on the figures, he has plenty in hand over his rivals.
His task has been made even easier with the defections of two of his main market rivals, Dal Harraild and Simple Verse, who have both suffered late setbacks.
With Order Of St George, last year’s Gold Cup winner and the one who managed to get closest to Big Orange at Ascot, also absent, Big Orange is a red-hot favourite.
“Winning the Gold Cup was personally hugely satisfying,” said Bell.
“It’s the feature of Royal Ascot and to win it after such an epic battle with Order Of St George was deeply rewarding.
“The stayers like Persian Punch, Double Trigger and Further Flight get a following because they hang around.
“They race over a long distance and perform to a high level so they develop characteristics and Big Orange ticks those boxes.
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“The horse doesn’t know who he’s running against and Order Of St George not running obviously makes his task easier as we only just beat him at Ascot.
“From a personal point of view, I was really looking forward to taking him on again as it would have been a great horse race.”
James Doyle was on top at Ascot as Frankie Dettori was injured.
“Frankie is a showman who lives for the big occasion and he missed out big time at Royal Ascot,” said Bell.
“He’ll want to be doing his flying dismount.”
The only Irish runner is Willie Mullins’ Wicklow Brave, who must lay claim to being the best dual-purpose horse in training.
Winner of the Irish St Leger last season, he also landed a Grade One over hurdles at the Punchestown Festival in April.
“He was fourth in the race last year but you’d have to say he’s a better horse now, despite being eight,” said owner Nick Peacock.
“He’s a wonderful horse to own – over hurdles and Flat he’s brilliant.
“We can only go there hopeful rather than confident against Big Orange, never mind the rest. Big Orange looks a mountain to climb.
“We have had quite a lot of rain down south, though, which might suit us more than Big Orange.
“There’s so much money on offer in this race with a horse like ours you’d be mad not to run.”
Qewy was fourth in the Queen Alexandra Stakes on his return to action and looks to be playing for a place at best in the latest leg of the Qipco British Champions Series.
Northumberland Plate winner Higher Power, Sheikhzayedroad and Queen’s Vase hero Stradivarius are also set to run.