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Haggas excited by Gold Cup bid for Dal Harraild

31 Jul 2017

Trainer believes moving up to two miles will suit his four-year-old

Big Orange with owner Bill Gredley after winning the Gold Cup. Picture: Racingfotos.com

William Haggas is excited about stepping Dal Harraild up to two miles for the first time in the Group 1 Qatar Goodwood Cup on Tuesday.

The feature, which has drawn a field of 16 and carries a first prize of almost £300,000, forms part of the Long Distance category of the QIPCO British Champions Series and much of the build-up has revolved around the possibility of Big Orange, the favourite, making history by becoming the first horse to win it three times in succession.

The Michael Bell-trained six-year-old looked better than ever when edging out Order Of St George in a pulsating Gold Cup at Royal Ascot last month, when She Is No Lady (fourth), Sheikhzayedroad (sixth), Sweet Selection (seventh), Prince Of Arran (eighth) and Simple Verse (14th) all finished behind.

Haggas is one of Big Orange’s many admirers but is hoping Dal Harraild, trained a mile down the road from him in Newmarket, can take his scalp. The four-year-old, who won at the Qatar Goodwood Festival last year, has solid form to his name over shorter distances and his trainer believes he will thrive now his stamina is tested.

“Obviously we all petrified of Big Orange but I’m really thrilled with Dal Harraild,” he said. “I’d like the ground to dry as he at his most effective on fast ground. Provided it’s not too bad, I think he’ll run a really good race.

“The first time I put him up to a mile and six [at York in May] he was impressive, admittedly in a weaker race, but I’m dying to run him over two miles. Believe you me, I think he will be better over that distance.

“It was my mistake we went for the Hardwicke [when he was sixth to Idaho last month]. I got sucked into the excitement of Royal Ascot and we rode him wrong because we knew he’d stay and he wasn’t quick enough. He was progressive last year and he’s still improving. It’s quite fun.”

Pat Cosgrave, his regular rider, added: “He’s in good form, has won on the track and I think he will improve for going over two miles. He should be a big player provided he gets his ground.

“I rode him the wrong way [from the front in the Hardwicke] because he was coming back in the trip. He’s a better horse ridden in midfield. It’s just a case of trying to beat the favourite, which might be hard.”

Qewy finished in front of Big Orange in the Emirates Melbourne Cup in November and attempts to confirm his superiority, albeit on 12lb worse terms.

The Charlie Appleby-trained seven-year-old was having his first run since Australia when fourth to Oriental Fox in the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot last month, a place behind US Army Ranger, the runner-up in the 2015 Investec Derby.

“I was pleased with his run at Ascot and he’s come out of it well,” Appleby said. “He probably found 2m6f a bit too far and dropping back in trip will suit him. Big Orange is exceptionally good on quicker surfaces and is even money. You can throw a blanket over the rest of us, so we will give it a go.

“The plan is go back to Australia with Qewy, so I’ve got to map his races timing wise to get down there fit and well.”

Group 1 winners Wicklow Brave (2016 Palmerstown House Estate Irish St. Leger), and High Jinx (2014 Qatar Prix du Cadran) take their chance, while Pallasator, runner-up in last year’s Goodwood Cup after being fourth 12 months before, attempts to make it third time lucky.

Stradivarius, winner of the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot, and Desert Skyline, who was sixth in that contest, represent the Classic generation. Higher Power, who defied top weight in the Stobart Rail Northumberland Plate Handicap last month, completes the field.