Michael Bell considers Big Orange the best two-miler in Britain and is hoping the stayer’s second trip to Melbourne brings an historic Melbourne Cup win.
Big Orange has returned for another crack at Australia’s richest race after his fifth last year and his trainer has declared the free-striding gelding “bang on” for Tuesday’s race.
He is trying to become the first British-trained horse to win the Melbourne Cup and Bell said connections were keen to return after the weights were published.
Big Orange was given half a kilogram more than in 2015, although the weights have since been raised 1kg and he’ will carry equal top weight of 57kg.
“As it turned out we’ve ended up with top weight but it’s all relative to the other horses and given he weighs 550 kilos himself, the fact that he’s carrying 55, 56, 57 is slightly academic,” Bell said.
“He’s a massive horse and he’s well able to carry that weight.”
The fact he does have top weight is the reason Bell believes Big Orange’s is at $16 and not significantly shorter.
“He’s got to A, buck a trend that no British-trained horse has ever won it and B, he’s got top weight,” he said.
“There are some factors against him but we have got enormous confidence in the horse’s ability.
“I think if this was a handicap with the English horses, he would be probably favourite.
“So I can’t factor in the Hartnells and the Jamekas and the Almandins. But I would say if this horse was to run in England at these weights against Wicklow Brave, Bondi Beach, he would be priced probably in my mind as an even-money favourite.
“So in this race I’m surprised he’s so big (a price), but I’m not surprised that he’s not favourite.”
Unlike last year when Big Orange ran in the Lonsdale Cup in August, Bell hasn’t raced him since his second-straight Goodwood Cup win on July 28.
“I made a conscious decision to keep the horse fresh for this race. And we’ll see if it’s right or wrong on Tuesday,” he said.
Bell said the plan was for Big Orange to be close to the pace.
“If anything wants to lead him, they’re very welcome to but I would suggest if they do lead him they won’t be leading him when it comes into the home straight,” Bell said.