Bell excited by Big Orange
Michael Bell has warned Big Orange is only now reaching the peak of his powers ahead of his tilt at a record-equalling third Qatar Goodwood Cup next week.
After getting the better of an epic duel with Order Of St George in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, the six-year-old will now attempt to claim the newly-upgraded Group One and match the achievements of Double Trigger, who won the race in 1995, 1997 and 1998.
And the Newmarket handler expects his six-year-old stable star to remain a dominant force in top-level staying races for years to come.
Bell said: "They are coming into their prime at this age. Basically staying horses are the nearest thing to National Hunt horses. At six, he is a young horse and he has only run 24 times. He is not exactly over-raced.
"There is no reason why he won't be as good for the next couple of years as a stayer. He has just filled his frame now.
"He is 17 hands and he has just come to himself. He shouldn't deteriorate for the next couple of years, he should be able to hold his form at that level.
"Those good stayers like Persian Punch, Double Trigger and Further Flight go on forever. God willing, barring injury, he should be able to compete at this level for a couple of years at least.
"He would be the first to win three on the trot, but obviously Double Trigger was an extremely popular horse and it would be nice to join him."
Although the Bill Gredley-owned gelding is a best-priced even-money shot to follow up his 2015 and 2016 successes in the two-mile prize, Bell insists there is no added pressure.
He said: "I think it increases the excitement as opposed to the pressure. Personally I think pressure is looking at an empty stable, not looking at a good horse.
"I've always tried to enjoy it every time I've had a good horse. Pressure is the wrong word, it just increases expectation.
"He is ready to go and he will do his usual routine. He might just have a tiny blow on Saturday."
He added: "I've just not got to mess him up now. You can't get a horse fit in a week, but you can mess them up."
While a return trip to Australia for a third shot at the Melbourne Cup is off the cards, Bell has not ruled out the possibility of Big Orange doing some travelling closer to home after his outing at Goodwood.
He said: "He could go to the Irish St Leger afterwards. We will pray for a dry autumn and there is the two-mile race at Ascot and the race on Arc weekend, the Cadran.
"There will be some ground somewhere, but he is not going to Australia. He will almost certainly go back to Meydan next year, we just hope for no cloud seeding."
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