English trainer Michael Bell believes Big Orange can help him write an almost rags-to-riches Melbourne Cup story.
The five-year-old gelding had never travelled outside the United Kingdom, let alone spent a night away from his trainer’s Newmarket yard or the stud where he was born, before the 30-hour flight to Melbourne.
“He’s taken to it like a duck to water. In fact he’s thinking of emigrating,” Bell said joked on Sunday.
Bell never intended for the horse to run in another race here before Tuesday’s Cup.
“He’s got bags of experience, he runs well fresh so it was never my plan to give him a prep. He doesn’t need match practice.”
Big Orange is the first horse Bell has had in an Australian race and he is hoping the stayer can become the first English-trained Melbourne Cup winner.
“The Australian way of life suits me well and we were always very, very keen to have a go if we got the right one,” he said.
Even with a suitable horse, other factors come into play when you’re an international trainer eyeing a Melbourne Cup run including connections who are looking at upwards of $150,000 to come here.
“You need an owner with a deep pocket to be able to make the flight,” Bell said.
“You need a suitable horse – it’s probably ideally better off with a gelding so you’re not trying to protect stallion value by shipping them down here and shipping them back again.
“There aren’t that many particular horses that are suitable to come down for it and we’re lucky to have eventually got one, 26 years after I started.”
Big Orange shares a grand dam with popular Cup runner Red Cadeaux and while Bell trained his gelding’s mother, he believes the horse would have been overlooked had he gone to yearling sales because he is a box walker.
“He’s enormous. He’s not particularly fashionably bred.
“I wouldn’t say he’s completely a rags-to-riches story but it would be certainly a good story for me if he won anyway.”
Bell also believes he has the right jockey in Jamie Spencer, who arrives in Melbourne on Monday morning and will have to make the best of barrier 23.
“Jamie’s a world-class jockey, the horse is talented, so hopefully Jamie can wave his magic wand and we’ll get a good possie into the bend and away we go.”
Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au