Big Orange showed battling qualities to win consecutive Goodwood CupsPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Orange battles to retain
Goodwood Cup crown
Report: Glorious Goodwood, Thursday
Qatar Goodwood Cup (Group 2) 2m, 3yo+
BIG ORANGE refused to be passed as he produced a gritty display to retain his Goodwood Cup crown as the 11-4 favourite for trainer Michael Bell.
Pallasator could not quite find enough in the closing stages and finished second, with Sheikhzayedroad third.
With the win Big Orange emulated the feat of Double Trigger in 1997 and 1998 in achieving back-to-back wins in the Goodwood Cup.
How the action unfolded
Jamie Spencer set a searching gallop on board Big Orange, however it was the steely determination to respond to the challenge of the Aidan O'Brien-trained Sword Fighter and more strongly by Pallasator that won him the race.
Indeed Pallasator, last year's fourth, appeared best placed to strike as he loomed ominously alongside Big Orange under Oisin Murphy approaching the three furlong marker. However, Big Orange found more in the final furlong to win by one-and-a-quarter lengths, going away from the Sir Mark Prescott-trained 9-1 chance.
The race was not without early incident as Oriental Fox was squeezed for room by Sandro Botticelli moving through on his inside, causing Joe Fanning to take evasive action which all but put an end to his chances.
Winning jockey Jamie Spencer was delighted with the attitude of his mount. "I always love a horse that wears his heart on his sleeve," he said. "He's a big galloper and he's got stronger since last year so he's able to maintain that gallop for a lot longer.
"On flat tracks he's much better as you can just let him go whereas you have to slow him down around the bends here. He was tough as they came at me a long way out. He tries really hard."
International campaign beckons
Big Orange is no stranger to trips aboard as he competed in last year's Melbourne Cup, finishing fifth, and Michael Bell suggested he could return to Australia.
"He's an enormous horse and while it's a bit of a cliche he is getting better with age. We're so lucky to have him. He loves fast ground, has a high cruising speed and a huge stride.
"Bill's [Gredley, owner] not so keen on Melbourne, Tim [Gredley, owner] is keen and I'd be quite keen, but we need to see what weight he has. The Canadian International and the Hong Kong Vase are both options for him too."
In the aftermath of his Goodwood win Big Orange was cut to as short as 16-1 for the Flemington showpiece, however Paddy Power and William Hill went to 20-1.