Royal Ascot: Doyle wins Gold Cup aboard Big Orange on head bob
Bob Kieckhefer recaps today’s Gold Cup and Norfolk from Day 3 at Royal Ascot, TurfTalk360.com coverage presented by Fasig-Tipton, home of the Sept. 10 Turf Showcase yearling auction:
After 2 1/2 miles, and with a gold trophy and a meeting with the Queen in the balance, a desperate head bob was all that separated the winner, Big Orange, from the runner-up, Order Of St George, at the end of Royal Ascot’s premier event, the Gold Cup (G1).
Big Orange, a world-traveling stayer, went to the lead for good after the first time down the straight as jockey James Doyle heeded advice from the injured Frankie Dettori, who rode Big Orange in his two previous races: “Don’t interfere with him.”
The 6-year-old Duke of Marmalade gelding got a short breather after the field climbed the hill from Swinley Bottom while Ryan Moore, aboard Order Of St George, was just beginning to improve position from well back. Moore had to go widest of all around the stretch turn and was still far back of the winner with a furlong to run. He made up almost all the ground but Doyle said he never felt Big Orange was at risk from last year’s Gold Cup winner.
“I wish the second had joined me earlier,” Doyle said. “I’d have won by more.”
Source: Ascot Racecourse
Doyle said he and Dettori had a 20-minute phone conversation earlier in the week and “he told me all about him. He was spot on. ‘Don’t interfere with him.’ I had Frankie’s words in my head.”
Reflecting on the ride, he added, “He is a real proper old-fashioned stayer who just wears his heart on his sleeve and just tries. I wish most horses I rode tried as hard as him. He feels like a bit old-fashioned sort of jump horse.”
The Gold Cup’s history includes the top stayers in Thoroughbred history, and the winner receives a trophy newly designed for each year’s running. By tradition, Her Majesty hands off the hardware to the winning connections and did so again Thursday, wearing a bright pink suit and hat.
Big Orange has raced in top company in Australia, Hong Kong and Dubai but scored his first Group 1 victory, prompting an emotional reaction from trainer Michael Bell.
“It’s the feature race of the meeting, an epic race taking on a very good horse in a proper horse race, and I can’t tell you the pride I have got in Big Orange,” Bell said. “Enormous pride and great satisfaction for the team at home. I’m so pleased for them, for the horse, for the owners, for me — for everybody.”
Order Of St George’s trainer, Aidan O’Brien, swallowed hard and looked to the future. “He ran a very good race,” said O’Brien of the 5-year-old by Galileo. “I am not sure yet where he will go next. We’ll see how he is.”
Moore had better fortune in the day’s opening race as he guided Sioux Nation over the road less traveled to victory in the Norfolk Stakes (G1) for 2-year-olds, winning by 1/2 length over Santry with Cardsharp a close third.
American hope McErin, with David Flores flying in to sub for the injured Frankie Dettori, drove to the early lead on the stands side but faded to finish seventh. Sioux Nation, racing on the outside rail, found the ground friendlier than it had been on the first two days of the Royal meeting and took full advantage in the final two furlongs.
Source: Ascot Racecourse
Sioux Nation started his career running third at Naas in April for his Coolmore owners and trainer Aidan O’Brien. The Scat Daddy colt improved to second at Leopardstown on May 7 and finally got the job done two weeks later at Cork. He sagged to finish sixth in his final prep for Ascot when he caught yielding turf at the Curragh.
O’Brien noted the late Scat Daddy was “an incredible stallion – the pace that they have makes them very different. It’s pure, raw speed and this horse has that as well. He’s a massive horse, a big, powerful horse, and to be doing this at this time of his career is incredible, really.”
Moore said Sioux Nation enjoyed firm ground earlier in his brief career. ” “He has got back on that ground today and always traveled like the winner,” he said. “He was a bit lonely on his own but he is a very good colt.”