ASCOT, BERKSHIRE, ENGLAND – Big Orange put up the performance of the Royal Ascot meet in winning the feature race, the Group 1 Gold Cup.
The Michael Bell-trained 6-year-old is well-known for his front-running style and made virtually every inch of the 2 1/2-mile trip under James Doyle. Last year’s winner, Order Of St George, came on late under Ryan Moore, and the two horses battled to a thrilling finish in which Big Orange beat the Aidan O’Brien-trained 5-year-old by a head.
“He’s just an absolute superstar,” said Bell. “He gives his all and he’s got a heart as big as himself. I can’t praise his attitude enough; he wants to race, and he’s a colossal racehorse. On fast ground in the middle of the summer, he’s a monster.
“We knew we would probably have to do the donkey work, but we were happy to do that; you can’t check his stride pattern. Quest For More went to try and make it, but they just weren’t going fast enough for them (Big Orange and James Doyle). You can’t check his stride – he’s got an enormous stride pattern, and you’ve got to let him use it.
“I was very happy throughout the race. I thought James was in total charge of the situation and I was very happy. Then, in the closing stages, I was praying for the winning post, saying, ‘Inshallah, please God,’ any religious thing I could think of to make the winning post come, and it did.”
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The win was Bell’s first in the Gold Cup and seventh career in the annual meet.
“It’s the feature race of the meeting, an epic race taking on a very good horse (Order Of St George) in a proper horse race, and I can’t tell you the pride I have got in Big Orange,” Bell said. “Enormous pride and great satisfaction for the team at home. I’m so pleased for them, for the horse, for the owners, for me – for everybody.”
As for the favorite, Order Of St George, the Aidan O’Brien runner had to chase down the leader in the home straight and pulled out every effort under a strong Ryan Moore ride, but on the line, the verdict went the way of Michael Bell’s horse.
“He ran a very good race,” said O’Brien of the 5-year-old by Galileo. “I am not sure yet where he will go next, we’ll see how he is.”
Order Of St George has run 18 times, winning eight races and finishing second six times, third once, and fourth twice.
G2 Norfolk Stakes
The Ballydoyle team started the third day of Royal Ascot with a bang, taking the opening Group 2 Norfolk Stakes with Sioux Nation who, racing on the far side of the track with just three other horses, came home by 1/2 a length over Santry.
The American-trained joint favorite McErin, who raced among the main stands’ side group and made most of the running, finished seventh. It was the third winner of the meeting for jockey Ryan Moore and the second for trainer Aidan O’Brien.
G3 Hampton Court Stakes
Saeed bin Suroor registered his 36th winner at the Royal Meeting after Benbatl gamely landed the 10-furlong Group 3 Ham pton Court Stakes, giving Godolphin its fourth victory at Royal Ascot 2017.
Ridden by Oisin Murphy, gaining his first success at Royal Ascot, the 3-year-old son of Dubawi was fifth until moving nicely into contention in the home straight.
G2 Ribblesdale Stakes
Coronet‘s last-gasp victory in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes was the 42nd Royal Ascot win for her trainer John Gosden, his first of this year’s Royal Meeting.
The Dubawi filly snatched triumph in the shadow of the post by a neck from Mori, denying Sir Michael Stoute a record-breaking 76th Royal Ascot win.
— Ascot Racecourse (@Ascot) June 22, 2017
Bless Him‘s Britannia Handicap success was only the second career Royal Ascot winner for trainer David Simcock, but a second this meet for jockey Jamie Spencer, whose career total now stands at 24.
Bless Him was a 25/1 shot and won by 1/2 a length from Ronald R, trained and owned by the Gold Cup-winning team of Michael Bell and Bill & Tim Gredley.
King George V Handicap
The Roger Charlton-trained Atty Persse provided his sire, Frankel, with a first winner at Royal Ascot, and owners Godolphin with their fifth of the week, following an impressive success in the concluding race of day three of Royal Ascot 2017, the King George V Handicap.
Ridden by apprentice jockey Kieran Shoemark, the talented 3-year-old found plenty of pressure in the closing stages to register a 3-length victory in the 12-furlong event.
Charlie Appleby’s First Nation, also owned by Godolphin, held on to take second, with Mark Johnston’s Bear Valley a head behind in third. There was a further neck back to Andrew Balding’s Drochaid in fourth.
Source: Ascot Racecourse