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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Big Orange centre of attention on Day 1 as Goodwood gets under way

Godolphin well stocked at the festival, including the Charlie Appleby-trained Qewy in the Queen Alexandra Stakes.

Big Orange will start the Goodwood Cup as the overwhelming favourite. Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images
Big Orange will start the Goodwood Cup as the overwhelming favourite. Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images

Five days of Goodwood action kicks off with the Group 1 Goodwood Cup on Tuesday.

The spotlight falls on Big Orange in the featured race of the day as the Michael Bell-trained six-year-old gelding by Duke Of Marmalade attempts to become the first horse to win a hat-trick of the prize that has been elevated from Group 2 status.

Big Orange is the overwhelming favourite among the racegoers and will be ridden by Frankie Dettori over the 3,200-metre distance on good to soft underfoot conditions.

Big Orange comes into the race having won his last two starts, the G3 Henry II Stakes at Sandown on May 25 followed by the Gold Cup victory over Order Of St George at Ascot on June 22.

“Winning the Gold Cup was personally hugely satisfying,” Bell said. “It’s the feature of Royal Ascot and to win it after such an epic battle with Order Of St George was deeply rewarding.

Fourteen go to post with the Charlie Appleby-trained Qewy, fourth in the Queen Alexandra Stakes on June 24, the sole flag bearer in the race for Godolphin with William Buick atop.

“I was pleased with his run at Royal Ascot but the distance of more than two miles and five furlongs stretched his stamina,” said Appleby of the seven-year-old gelded son of the 2002 Dubai World Cup winner Street Cry.

“Qewy will be more in his comfort zone with the two miles. He likes to be ridden close to the pace and we are fitting cheek-pieces to help him keep his concentration.”

Sheikhzayedroad, third behind Big Orange 12 months ago, takes his chance again after finishing sixth behind the same horse in the Gold Cup in his last start. Trained by David Simcock for Dubai owner Mohammed Jaber, the eight-year-old Dubawi gelding has previously lacked consistency.

Godolphin has Zaman entered in the Vintage Stakes for two-year-olds and a quartet in the Lennox Stakes, both G2 prizes and the main supporting races in the seven-race card.

The Appleby-trained Zaman is the most experienced of the 11 runners in the 1,400m race for two-year-olds. He has won twice and put in a competitive performance when finishing fourth behind Aidan O’Brien’s Gustav Klimt in the G2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket in his most recent start.

Godolphin are well represented in the next race, the Lennox Stakes, with Home Of The Brave spearheading their challenge. Trained by Hugo Palmer and ridden by James Doyle, the chestnut son of Starspangledbanner comes into the racer having won both his starts this season.

Jungle Cat (Charlie Appleby/William Buick), Dream Castle (Saeed bin Suroor/Oisin Murphy) and last year’s winner Dutch Connection (Charlie Hills/Jim Crowley) are the others competing in the race.