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James McDonald has been seen at his best, steering Big Orange to an all-the-way defence of the Group Two Princess Of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket.

The leading Sydney jockey, who is retained by Godolphin, is on an extended sojourn in England during the Australian winter and picked up the ride when Jamie Spencer chose runner-up The Grey Gatsby.

The Michael Bell-trained Big Orange, fifth in last year’s Melbourne Cup, was left alone in front and had plenty left at the end of the 2400m-race to hold off the favourite by 2-1/2 lengths.

“He was pretty happy out there and he gave me a beautiful ride. He’s an absolute gentleman and a pleasure to ride,” McDonald said.

“He wasn’t the best to begin in the stalls as he’s so big, but he was a gentleman on the course and that’s where it matters.”

Bell pulled the pin on last month’s Ascot Gold Cup because of the soft ground and Big Orange is now favourite to repeat his win in the Goodwood Cup later this month.

“He’ll just keep going. We know he gets two miles (3200m). He wasn’t going to stop,” Bell said.

“He’s the most charming horse to train and I’m pleased for James McDonald as he’s a lovely guy.”

William Hill make Big Orange 4-1 for the Goodwood Cup and 20-1 for the Melbourne Cup.

 
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