Big Orange (centre): drawn better than last year
PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
By Mark Scully in Melbourne 10:03AM 29 OCT 2016
Australia: Big Orange has been handed a significant boost in his bid to become the first British-trained winner of the Emirates Melbourne Cup after being drawn in stall seven for Tuesday’s contest.
The news was greeted with a loud cheer from connections with trainer Michael Bell punching the air with excitement in stark contrast to last year when the horse was drawn in stall 23 of 24.
Bell said: “He ran a great race last year and he was only a boy last year and he’s now developed into a man. He’s got a significantly better draw so we just hope it doesn’t rain and we’re very confident of a good run.”
Big Orange is among eight European runners in the Melbourne Cup including the Charlie Appleby-trained pair Qewy and Oceanographer, who secured himself an automatic place in the field after a last-gasp victory in the Lexus Stakes just hours before the draw was made. Qewy will break from stall 15 with Oceanographer in gate 11.
Appleby, who expressed surprise that Oceanographer was a shorter price than Geelong Cup-winner Qewy, said: “I’m delighted we’ve got a decent draw now but whatever happens will be a bonus now. It’s been an enjoyable experience for the team and hopefully we can enjoy it a bit more.”
Bad luck of the draw
Irish raiders Wicklow Brave and Heartbreak City were handed the widest draws of all in stalls 24 and 23 respectively, results which were greeted with groans.
Willie Mullins, who trains Wicklow Brave and saddled Max Dynamite to be second last year, said: “Even though it doesn’t look the best draw he might like to be on his own with a bit of daylight. He won the [Irish St] Leger from the front and when he won the County Hurdle he was wide the whole way.”
Favourite Hartnell, who chased home wondermare Winx in the Cox Plate last time, will break from stall 12 while Bondi Beach goes from gate five for Aidan O’Brien.