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Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Country chasing a big Scandinavian win for the Dixons and Appleby

Big Country and his connections celebrate his win in last year's Rosebery Handicap
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2.50 Ovrevoll
Marit Sveaas Minnelop | 1m1f | Group 3 | 3yo+ | turf

Britain is represented on Norway's Derby day thanks to trainer Mick Appleby and the super shrewd Horse Watchers syndicate, which has sent its flagbearer Big Country to Ovrevoll in a bid to land the £72,000 first prize of the Group 3 Marit Sveaas Minnelop.

Big Country has already won three races this year, including the Zetland Gold Cup and a Pontefract Listed event on his latest outing, but on Sunday he will be chasing the biggest win of his career under Luke Morris on an afternoon when his connections also have Hakam in the Group 3 Polar Cup (2.00).

The owners include Racing UK broadcasting brothers Chris and Martin Dixon, who flew to Norway on Saturday, excited about a very singular sort of adventure.

Looking forward to Big Country's race, Chris Dixon said: "We thought we'd try something different. There's the travelling to overcome, plus it's a fairly sharp track, but we won't know how he'll handle it unless we try.

"There's a real incentive to race here because a good portion of the travel costs are paid for us. On top of that the Strensall Stakes [at York] looked very competitive and the Winter Hill prize-money [at Windsor] isn't very good.

"We're rated a pound off the highest-rated horse [Our Last Summer], who was the Norwegian Derby winner in 2016, but I think our form has more depth to it. Basically, we think if he gives his running he'll win."

Dixon added: "The jockeys can't carry whips in Norway, except for safety purposes in two-year-old races. Our horse does respond very well to the whip, so it's a disadvantage in that sense, but equally he travels very well and is very genuine."

The Ovrevoll action can be watched via

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There is a real incentive to race here because a good portion of the travel costs are paid for us
E.W. Terms
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