The clock was to be turned back once again on Newmarket’s July course, as the familiar yellow, black and white silks of owner breeder Bill Gredley – best known for producing the high-class filly User Friendly and Coral Eclipse hero Environment Friend – were carried to success in the day one feature by his latest flagship thoroughbred, Big Orange.
The five-year-old gelding was not best away from the starting stalls but was quickly brought through to lead by jockey James McDonald.
Unhassled at the head of affairs, Big Orange set an even pace with the seven strong field forming Indian file in behind as they made the turn into the long home straight.
McDonald turned the screw three furlongs out in what turned out to be a crucial point in the race. Exosphere and The Grey Gatsby ridden by Jamie Spencer tried to close the gap on the leader, but entering the final furlong it was clear McDonald had got the fractions to a tee and the son of Duke Of Marmalade hit the line with just over two lengths to spare.
For the young New Zealander in the saddle, his summer stint with Godolphin has been going from strength-to-strength in recent weeks, made evident by his late winning swoop aboard the Charlie Appleby-trained Antiquarium in the Northumberland Plate. With plenty of riding time left in Britain this season, he hopes his association with Big Orange can continue.
“He gave me a beautiful ride,” reflected McDonald. “In the stalls he wasn’t the best as he’s so tightly compact in there, but he was a gentleman on the course and he was in front where it mattered.”
Despite enjoying a purple patch in recent weeks, Bell has been somewhat under the radar so far this season as 11 winners would suggest.
His imposing stable star now has three Group 2 victories to his name including this race 12 months ago, prior to running a gallant race in the Melbourne Cup behind Prince of Penzance. He could make it an exciting latter half of the season for his trainer as some mouthwatering targets loom.
Bell said: “He gets two miles so we knew he wasn’t going to stop.
“He’s the most charming horse to train and have in the yard. He’s bred up the road by owner breeder Bill Gredley and he’s been getting quite a following.”
Earlier in the afternoon, the topically named Housesofparliament claimed the honours in the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy for Aidan O’Brien, having performed creditably at Royal Ascot three weeks ago in the King Edward VII Stakes.
Positioned just off the leaders by Ryan Moore, the three-year-old colt by Galileo led within the final furlong and held all challengers at bay to secure the victory by just over a length en route no doubt to a tilt at the St Leger in September.
In the Group 2 Arqana July Stakes for two-year-olds, the Richard Hannon-trained Mehmas saw off his nine rivals in ultimately comfortable fashion under Frankie Dettori.
Never too far off the early pace, the colt made a decisive move within in the final furlong to score by half-a-length making it a second straight win in the contest for Al Shaqab Racing and an eighth win in the race for the Hannon’s.