Tuesday 24 April 2018

Stayers' duel on cards

Trainer Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Sportsfile
Trainer Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Sportsfile

Leading stayers Big Orange and Order Of St George could face off again at Ascot with the pair both in the frame for the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at the end of the season.

The October 21 event has drawn 60 initial entries, but the Michael Bell-trained Big Orange and Aidan O'Brien's Order Of St George are the two key names after fighting out a thrilling finish for the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

Big Orange prevailed by a short head in June and has since finished second when chasing a third victory in last week's Goodwood Cup, when he finished just a length and three-quarters behind Stradivarius, which is also entered on Champions Day, despite conceding 13lb.

Bell said: "He's having an easy time for two or three weeks now as he lost a lot of weight, he lost 18 kilos and he was a tired horse after Goodwood. He ran a fantastic race. It was a very tough ask trying to give all that weight away to a three-year-old but he fell on his sword."

Big Orange could take in the Irish St Leger en route to Ascot, with O'Brien considering a similar plan for Order Of St George, which finished fourth on Champions Day last year having taken third in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Willie Mullins has entered Max Dynamite, Renneti and Wicklow Brave, bidding to give the trainer a first Champions Day success. Other notable entries include 2015 victor Flying Officer, last year's winner Sheikhzayedroad and O'Brien's Hardwicke Stakes hero Idaho.

Irish Independent

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