Big Orange Major British Hope To End Melbourne Cup Drought

Trainer Michael Bell's Big Orange aims to be the first British Melbourne Cup winner since Vintage Crop in 1993.

Run for the first time in 1861, the Melbourne Cup is the richest two mile handicap in the world and in 2015 boasted prize money of $6,200,000 – a far cry from the inaugural running for which connections of the winner Archer received the princely sum of 710 gold sovereigns and a gold watch.

Few subsequent renewals have seen as much drama as occurred at Flemington Racecourse all those years ago, when three of the seventeen starters fell during the race, two of which suffered fatal injuries.

Apart from the Grand National, no other horserace captures the attention of the general public quite like ‘the race that stops a nation‘, as at 3.00pm on the first Tuesday each November. Time stands still in Australia for a little over three minutes until the winner flashes past the post to the delight of supporters and dismay for those who had harboured dreams of glory for weeks, months or even years.

Owners, trainers and jockeys ‘Down Under‘ are loathe to give up their greatest prize to potential foreign challengers, but in 1993 leading Irish trainer Dermot Weld created history when saddling Vintage Crop to become the first from that country to prove successful, a feat equalled in 2012 when the master of Rosewell House took the contest for a second time with Media Puzzle.

The nearest Britain has come to emulate Weld however was the second places occupied by the Luca Cumani-trained Bauer in 2008, and most recently the ill-fated Red Cadeaux who occupied that position in 2011, 2013 and 2014. Along with Bauer, Ed Dunlop’s popular gelding (something of a cult figure among lovers of the race ) failed by just a nose in the first of those runner-up spots, causing many to believe that an elusive victory for the U.K. will never happen.

One trainer who believes he has the right horse to finally end the hoodoo is Newmarket-based Michael Bell whose Big Orange currently vies for favouritism at a top price 16-1 following a fine effort 12 months ago as an unconsidered 60-1 chance under jockey Jamie Spencer (You can read more about the odds on our Melbourne Cup Betting Guide page). Since then the five-year-old son of Duke Of Marmalade has enjoyed a successful campaign on home soil culminating in victories in two Group 2 contests – Newmarket’s Princess Of Wales’ Arqana Racing Club Stakes before running out a game winner of the Qatar Goodwood Cup – both races taking place back in July.

Despite now achieving a career-high mark of 117, Big Orange will find himself enjoying a 7lb pull with last year’s winner Prince Of Penzance who created history himself when partnered by Michelle Payne, the first female to win the race. The Ed Dunlop-trained Trip To Paris finished one place in front of Big Orange last year but has been well held in three starts this season and will struggle to confirm that form on this occasion.

A view shared by Skybet bookmakers who make the 2015 Ascot Gold Cup hero a 50-1 chance to give the trainer some compensation for those narrow misses of ex stablemate Red Cadeaux. Should Big Orange justify stable confidence in just over five weeks time the home team may have little to celebrate but the horse will enjoy superstar status on the other side of the world. And not before time in the eye’s of those who have tried and failed for so long.