HISTORY beckons for Big Orange in the Qatar Goodwood Cup today as he attempts to become the first horse in more than 200 years of the famous race to win it three times on the trot.
Double Trigger won it three years in four in the 1990s for Mark Johnston and is regarded as a legend for having done so.
He has a restaurant named in his honour at Goodwood – so they might have to build a new eaterie if Big Orange does the business this year. And paint it orange.
The horse is part of a recent upsurge in interest in the Goodwood Cup in recent years that has seen it upgraded to top-level Group 1 status and switched to the opening day to ensure the week starts with a bang.
And his Newmarket-based trainer Michael Bell admits he is dreaming of what would be a ‘phenomenal’ third win for his six-year-old stamina king.
Big Orange, whose sire is Duke of Marmalade, comes to Goodwood off the back of a spine-tingling Ascot Gold Cup win in which he held off Aidan O’Brien’s Order of St George – a rival he won’t face again on the Downs after Coolmore elected to run US Army Ranger instead.
Bell said: ‘He’s come out of his Ascot race extremely well. The Ascot Gold Cup was always likely to be a head to head between him and Order of St George and from a public and racing point of view, it was a great spectacle.
‘At Goodwood, to get a hat-trick of victories in the race would be phenomenal, especially with it being upgraded to Group 1 and given extra prize money.
‘I remember his first Goodwood Cup in 2015, when he beat Quest For More by a neck and Trip To Paris was a very close third. It was an epic race.
‘Last year you couldn’t see much of the race from the stands but again he ran an epic race and won (over Pallasator) with a little more to spare. He really knuckled down.
‘This year there’ll be some dark horses too. It will be a real heavyweight battle.’
Bell gave an insight into Big Orange’s character, saying he was a delight to train for owners, the Gredleys, who have so far seen him notch nine wins, eight of them in pattern races.
‘Big Orange is very easy. He’s a character – a gentle giant, with no malice,’ added Bell.
‘His only flaw is that he walks his box a bit, something we’re working to put right. Because of that we’ll bring him down to Goodwood on the day.
‘He’s only six now and a lot of good stayers are just coming into their own at six or seven, so we don’t know what more there is to come from him.
‘He could become the stuff of legend, you have to look after stayers and not campaign them endlessly.
‘The Gredleys bred him and come and watch him working regularly.
‘They’re very involved, which is fantastic.’