Drakenstein Stud’s top class sire Duke Of Marmalade, whose first South African yearlings sell this year, is the sire of tough-as-teak gelding Big Orange, who made it group win number five yesterday when landing the G3 Matchbook Henry II Stakes at Sandown.
The Michael Bell trained six-year-old, sent off the 4/5 favourite, was given a superb front running ride by Frankie Dettori to land the G3 contest by an easy five lengths, with G1 Prix du Cadran winner Quest For More among the beaten runners.
Dettori, who was winning the Henry II for a sixth time, said after the win, “I’ve ridden him a couple of times and I’m getting to know him now. We went an even gallop throughout, I picked it up at the top of the straight and I knew it would take a good one to get past me. He’s as brave as a lion. I told Michael if he runs like that in the Gold Cup he’d be in the first three, he’d be racing better horses but on that performance he’s entitled to be in the Gold Cup. He stays and he likes fast ground, it’s very rare you get a wet Royal Ascot.It’s nice to see old boys like him performing year after year, it’s great. He’s been around a while and like Persian Punch he wears his heart on his sleeve and that’s what racegoers want to see.”
The G1 Ascot Gold Cup is next on the cards for Big Orange, who has now won eight times and banked over £900 000 in prize money.
One of the most popular horses currently in training in the UK, Big Orange’s previous victories include back to back successes in both the G2 Qatar Goodwood Cup (now a G1 contest) and G2 Princess Of Wales’s Arqana Racing Club Stakes.
His five time G1 winning sire Duke Of Marmalade has more than 50 stakes horses to his credit, including recent G3 Prix de Barbeville winner Marmelo.
A former Cartier Champion, Duke Of Marmalade is the covering sire on two lots at the upcoming Mares, Weanlings & Fillies For Stud Select Sale –and is also represented by a weanling filly on that sale.
(Duke Of Marmalade’s sole weanling in the Select Sale is out of G2 SA Fillies Nursery winner State Factor –a close relative of Horse Of The Year National Colour, dam of recent G1 winners Rafeef and Mustaaqeem).