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Big Orange can take stayers' title at Royal Ascot

Big Orange can take the Ascot Gold Cup on day three of the Royal meeting
By Keith Hamer, Press Association Sport

BIG Orange can handle the step up to two-and-a-half miles with aplomb by landing the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

Michael Bell's popular stayer looks to have plenty in his favour as he goes for glory in the stayers' championship.

Winner of the Goodwood Cup for the last two years over half-a-mile shorter, the Duke Of Marmalade gelding steps into the unknown but he never looked like stopping when taking the Henry II Stakes by five lengths over two miles at Sandown.

That was a most encouraging first run back in Britain after taking in races such as the Melbourne Cup, Hong King Vase and Dubai Gold Cup.

The six-year-old relishes fast ground and with conditions to his liking, he can foil Order Of St George's bid to repeat last year's success.

Mori can live up to her impeccable pedigree in the Ribblesdale Stakes on what is Ladies' Day at the Royal meeting.

By the mighty Frankel out of Nassau and Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare turf winner Midday, she has been brought along steadily by trainer John Gosden.

Unraced as a two-year-old she was beaten on her racecourse debut at Newbury in April but has won her two subsequent starts, an Ascot maiden and a Listed race at Goodwood.

All her races have been over 10 furlongs so far but it is reasonable to believe she will stay the mile-and-a-half. If she gets it well, it would see her emerge as a serious contender for the Darley Irish Oaks.

The day starts with a blast down the straight five furlongs which can go to Frozen Angel, who is taken to reverse National Stakes form with Havana Grey and keep other promising rivals at bay in the Norfolk Stakes.

Frozen Angel looked a slightly unlucky loser at Sandown and had cut the deficit on the winner to only a length at the line after being tight for room at a crucial stage of the race.

Tom Dascombe's youngster had looked pretty smart when winning over the course and distance on his previous start.

Benbatl is expected to give the form of the Investec Derby a boost with victory in the Hampton Court Stakes.

The Saeed bin Suroor-trained colt was ridden with restraint at Epsom in an attempt to stay the mile-and-a-half and ran really well to claim fifth place.

However, this mile-and-a-quarter is probably best trip as he was always prominent when only going down by three-quarters of a length to Permian in the Dante Stakes at York, after easily winning on his debut at Doncaster in April and finishing third to Eminent in the Craven at Newmarket.

Afaak could be the answer to the tricky puzzle that is the Britannia Handicap.

The Charlie Hills-trained colt is bred to win at a higher level, being by leading stallion Oasis Dream out of 1000 Guineas heroine Ghanaati, and at the moment is very much unexposed.

He has won his last two starts in promising fashion and might still be ahead of the handicapper despite being raised 6lb for his latest success at Doncaster.

Sofia's Rock put up a solid performance when defying top weight over a mile-and-a-half and looks the one to beat in the King George V Handicap, a race his trainer Mark Johnston has won five times.


CHELSMFORD: 1.50 Mr Little, 2.20 Master Dancer, 2.55 Lastmanlastround, 3.30 Zzoro, 4.05 Voi, 4.45 Cray, 5.20 Classic Pursuit.

FFOS LAS: 6.10 Tiger Trek, 6.40 Deadly Move, 7.10 Spring Steel, 7.40 Havana Beat, 8.10 Gingili, 8.40 Yes Daddy, 9.10 Londonia.

LEOPARDSTOWN: 6.00 Red Persian, 6.30 Luzum, 7.00 Xenobia, 7.30 Jet Streaming, 8.00 Aared, 8.30 A Little Bit Me, 9.00 Black Label.

LINGFIELD: 5.55 How's Lucy, 6.20 Chess Move, 6.50 Picansort, 7.20 Staffa, 7.50 Helfire, 8.20 Nuzha, 8.50 Bonnie Arlene.

RIPON: 2.10 Ypres, 2.45 Dyson's Girl, 3.20 Dusty Blue, 3.55 Londinium, 4.35 Magic City, 5.10 Strictly Art, 5.45 Singapore Sling

ROYAL ASCOT: 2.30 Frozen Angel, 3.05 Benbatl, 3.40 Mori, 4.20 BIG ORANGE (NAP), 5.00 Afaak, 5.35 Sofia's Rock.

DOUBLE: Big Orange and Mori.


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