Order of St. George showed a lot a little too late as he was edged by surprise upset winner Big Orange in the 2017 Ascot Gold Cup today.
The 2 1/2 mile turf race is a grinding marathon of a challenge, and it went down to the wire in what can only be described as an absolute thriller. Big Orange opened up a hefty lead down the final stretch and looked to be clear and away, but Order of St. George slammed in to another gear and was just a nose behind at the finish line.
For all intents and purposes this was meant to be a one-horse race. Order of St. George was a heavy 4/5 favorite in the 2017 Ascot Gold Cup, but lost out to Big Orange who was a distant 8/1 second choice alongside Simple Verse who finished dead last. Harbor Law was a daring choice at the window to show with 20/1 odds of his own.
Trainer Michael Bell has shipped Big Orange all around the world in search of his first top-tier victory, and the six-year-old gelding finally scored when it matters most. “We knew we would probably have to do the donkey work, but we were happy to do that,” Bell said. “You can’t check his stride pattern. It’s the feature race of the meeting. An epic race taking on a very good horse in a proper horse race, and I can’t tell you the pride I have got in Big Orange.”
Bell isn’t spinning hyperbole here either. The 2017 Ascot Gold Cup is the biggest race on the British Thoroughbred calendar and draws some of the best long distance runners from across the globe. Big Orange has recently been in Dubai, Hong Kong, Australia and Europe within the last eight months and finished all over the place. He last placed 1st in the 2017 Henry II Stakes, but was 4th in the 2017 Dubai Gold Cup and 11th in the 2016 Hong Kong Vase.