By Kyle Mitcheison
If a picture is worth a thousand words then there is no denying that Big Orange is in the shape of his life ten days away from his attempt to become the first horse to win three successive Goodwood Cups.
At a rain-drenched Fitzroy House on Monday morning, the six-year-old son of Duke Of Marmalade was paraded in front of the cameras where he adopted his usual chilled and nonchalant demeanour.
Double Trigger is the only previous triple Goodwood Cup winner and, in common with Big Orange, was a hugely popular horse. His gritty racing style was not so far removed from Michael Bell's gelding.
Big Orange's character and tenacity continues to win followers and in each of the past two runnings of Qatar Goodwood Festival staying feature, this year elevated to Group One status, he has battled back strongly to prevail after being headed .Michael Bell paraded Big Orange on Monday (Mark Cranham)
“It's the first one we've had that's been like that,” Bell said. “Packets of polos are often found in the post for him and it's great but he's just such a lovely horse. He has enormous ears and eyes and everything about him is engaging.”
It has been well-documented that Big Orange is at his most effective on fast ground, as he proved when edging out Order Of St george by a short head in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot last month.
Bell will be hoping for a dry spell but said: “You can drive yourself crazy with [weather] forecasts. I think nearer the time we'll start worrying.
Big Orange is playful mood with his Jill Dolman, his regular work rider, on Monday
“English summers are notoriously difficult to predict. We got drenched at Goodwood two years ago and it was just slightly getting on the slow side that day but he's definitely a better horse on fast ground there's no doubt about that.
“I think we probably will run because there's nothing else at this stage of proceedings for him and I can't see it being that bad [the ground].”
His run in the Ascot Gold Cup was his first over two and a half miles and he will drop back to two miles on Thursday week. Frankie Dettori, who had to miss the ride on him at the royal meeting after breaking his shoulder, is set to be reunited with him.
Bell could not be more pleased with his charge and everything since his thrilling win on June 22 has seemingly gone to plan.
“There was nice gap between races and some horses could of possibly taken in the July meeting as well,” Bell said. “He's only had two runs all year discounting Meydan and his races have been very well spaced out.
“As you can see he's ready to go. He'll do his usual routine between now and the race, he might just have a tiny blow on Saturday but he's certainly ready and now I just need to not mess him up. You can't get a horse fit in a week but you can soon mess them up in a week.”