The Gold Cup is the feature of Royal Ascot and it delivered the race of the meeting with a battling victory by Big Orange.
James Doyle only came in for the ride when Frankie Dettori was ruled out on Tuesday with a shoulder injury.
He produced a copy-book front-running ride but it helps to have a horse with the heart of a champion. Doyle had set a gallop that would slowly turn the screw on the field over two and a half miles and, from the home turn, he was not about to die wondering.
Big Orange went perhaps two lengths clear but there were still two furlongs to run and Order of St George, last year’s winner, came down the outside with a powerful run for Ryan Moore. Order of St George was devouring that lead with every stride but just could not muster the final stride to take him in front because Big Orange simply refused to concede and won by a short-head, with Harbour Law in third.
Michael Bell has never hidden his regard for Big Orange whom he described as “God’s gift to a trainer”.
"I can't give the horse enough credit. He just puts it on the line and it's just fantastic,” Bell said. "It was an epic race. Order Of St George is a fantastic horse ridden by a brilliant jockey. I can't describe the feeling of pride I have in my horse.
"I was just praying for the line and begging for the line to come. The horse is a superstar - he's a warrior. That's his eighth Pattern win and we're extremely lucky to train him."
Benbatl was a fourth winner at the meeting for Godolphin, in the Hampton Court Stakes, but a first career Royal Ascot winner for his jockey, Oisin Murphy, who almost exploded with joy passing the post. "I don't celebrate very often, but that one meant the world to me,” he said. “It builds up in your mind and you're just trying to get it out of the way and the monkey off your back.”
John Gosden already had 41 Royal Ascot winners to his name and added another when Coronet edged out the favourite Mori to win the Ribblesdale Stakes. The defeat for Mori means that her trainer, Sir Michael Stoute, still needs one winner to become the most successful trainer in the history of Royal Ascot.
- Published in International