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Bell predicts Big Orange will have to squeeze out more

2 Feb 2017

Trainer believes upgrading Goodwood Cup to a Group One race is a positive but also sees a downside.

Big Orange

Big Orange will seek a record-equalling third win in the Goodwood Cup this summer. Picture: Racingfotos.com

Michael Bell has applauded the decision to upgrade the Qatar Goodwood Cup to a Group 1 race, even though he admits it may make it tougher for Big Orange to complete a famous hat-trick of wins in it this summer.

The European Pattern Committee announced on Wednesday that the famous two-mile contest, which forms part of the QIPCO British Champions Series, had been upgraded to the highest level.

In addition, the race will carry prize money of £500,000 – an increase of £200,000 on last year.

Big Orange has won the past two renewals and, if successful again on August 1, will become only the second triple winner of the race after Double Trigger, who won it in 1995, 1996 and 1998.

“I think this is a very good thing for the staying division,” Bell said. “It fits in nicely, as stayers are short of a Group 1 over two miles at that time of the year.

“It may make it a bit tougher for Big Orange to notch a hat-trick, but it’s very good news.”

The Goodwood Cup‘s elevation is part of a host of changes issued by the EPC to help “safeguard the future of the staying horse in Europe”.

John Gosden, the two-time champion trainer, said: “Any action taken to promote and improve the staying programme can only be of benefit to racing and to the breed and I welcome the news.”