Horses To Follow » Big Orange

Big Orange

Big Orange may not have got the credit that he deserved for winning a really competitive little seven-runner listed handicap at Chester on Saturday. The general feeling afterwards appeared to be that he enjoyed an easy lead in front, and that it was difficult for the hold-up horses to get into the race, but that may be too simplistic a view to adopt.

Sent to the front from the start of this 13-furlong race by Tom Queally, Michael Bell’s horse travelled well in front until they started the long sweeping turn for home. At that point, he was challenged for the lead by talented confirmed stayer Noble Silk, so Queally had to get after him in order to ensure that he retained the lead and the inside rail. All the while, the well-backed favourite Whiplash Willie travelled well in behind and, once Noble Silk had been fought off, it looked like Andrew Balding’s horse was going to emerge as a serious danger. He duly did, David Probert delaying his challenge until he wanted to let his horse go. Whiplash Willie did pick up when his rider asked him to, but Big Orange found lots in front, and he stayed on really willingly to win well by a length, with the front two nicely clear.

This was just Big Orange’s sixth ever run. He ran twice last season as a juvenile without winning, but he has progressed with every run this term. Second to Derby third Romsdal at Kempton on his debut this term, the Duke Of Marmalade gelding made all to win his maiden at Lingfield in late April, and he stepped up markedly on the form of that run when he stepped up significantly in trip to two miles and finished fourth in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot. He raced prominently that day too, he took up the running at the top of the home straight and, while he gave best to Hartnell, Century and Marzocco, he kept on well to finish fourth. There was no disgrace in finishing behind that trio. They dominated the market for the Queen’s Vase, and two of them have run since, Hartnell winning the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy on his next run, and Marzocco finishing fifth in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris.

Saturday’s run was Big Orange’s first run since and, given that he was a little weak in the market beforehand, it is legitimate to expect that he will progress again at least a little for it. He was raised a massive 17lb for his Queen’s Vase run, but he proved here that he was well worth a rating of 100; that he is almost certainly even better than that mark, possibly a fair bit better, and a 4lb hike is not excessive. It seems that he is well suited to making the running, or at least to aggressive tactics, he stays well, and the fact that he was able to win on Saturday on easy ground adds another dimension to his form. He is in the Cesarewitch and he would be an interesting contender in that, although that looks unlikely now. Michael Bell did mention the Group 2 Prix Chaudenay on Arc weekend as an option, and he would also be of interest in that.

30th August 2014