Melbourne Cup: Cross Counter beats Marmelo and A Prince Of Arran; The Cliffsofmoher euthanased
Cross Counter has won the $7.05 million Melbourne Cup at Flemington, beating Marmelo and A Prince Of Arran.
The win gives the global racing operation Godolphin its first Cup win, while jockey Kerrin McEvoy won for the third time.
- Cross Counter, ridden by Kerrin McEvoy, wins the Cup in only its eighth start, beating Marmelo and A Prince of Arran
- It’s the first win for an English-trained horse at the Melbourne Cup and the first victory for global racing operation Godolphin
- The Aidan O’Brien-trained horse, The Cliffsofmoher, broke his leg early in the race and had to be euthanased
The race was marred when the Aidan-O’Brien-trained The Cliffsofmoher broke down at the winning post the first time around, breaking its leg. The horse was euthanased after the race.
The forecast rain had arrived early on the day of the Cup, with more than 50mm falling in the hours leading up to the race.
The track was downgraded from good to a Heavy 8 before the rain passed, allowing the course to come back to a Soft 6 at race time.
Another Aidan O’Brien horse, Yucatan, had gone off as favourite, ahead of English stayer Magic Circle.
But both horses finished back in the field, as Cross Counter and Marmelo produced stunning closing speed to pass the leaders in the straight and fight the race out between them.
The winner had a setback in its preparation, cutting its leg at Werribee after arriving in Australia.
But the four-year-old, a Northern Hemisphere three-year-old like last year’s winner, Rekindling — recovered quickly and had impressed in trackwork in the week leading up to the race.
The race had started with the Geelong Cup winner Runaway and Vengeur Masque, Finche and outsider Sir Charles Road upfront.
As the field tried to find a decent spot, there was big trouble at the back as The Cliffsofmoher’s devastating injury led to a number of horses being hampered.
With 1,400m to run three of the favourites — Yucatan, Magic Circle and Youngstar — were all together around 10th place, behind Runaway, Ace High and Finche.
By the time the field got to the turn, the same three plus Vengeur Masque were at the front, but the challenges were starting to come — although Cross Counter was ahead of only six horses.
Cross Counter’s (C) brilliant finish proved too strong for Marmelo (R) and A Prince of Arran (L) at Flemington. (AAP: Julian Smith)
A Prince of Arran got out at the top of the straight and quickly ranged up to the leaders, with Ventura Storm and Rostropovich just behind.
A Prince of Arran hit the front, but Marmelo came through on the inside to challenge at the 200m.
The lightweight Cross Counter was only carrying 51kg compared to 55kg for Marmelo and 53kg for A Prince of Arran — and he was able to use his weight to his advantage, flying down the outside to take the lead inside the final 100m and win.
Trainer Charlie Appleby was delighted after the race.
“It is a very special day for us all. But more importantly, it is a special day for his highness, Sheik Mohammed [bin Rashid Al Maktoum] and team Godolphin,” he said.
“Obviously three of us coming into the race today, we were all [agreed] that we would try to get this result. But whoever had won it, we would have all been congratulating one another.
“For me, it is a very special to be here, but like I say, for a team it is just fantastic for everybody.
“I have spoken to his highness and he’s over the moon about this result.”
Godolphin’s other horses were the James Cummings-trained Avilius, who finished 23rd, and Caulfield Cup winner Best Solution, who came eighth.
Jockey Kerrin McEvoy and trainer Charlie Appleby didn’t mind getting wet after Cross Counter’s Melbourne Cup win. (AAP: Albert Perez)
Jockey McEvoy had won on Brew in 2000 and on Almandin in 2016. He now joins Damien Oliver on three wins, behind only Bobby Lewis and Harry White with four victories.
“They [Godolphin] have been striving to win this race for a long time,” McEvoy said at the presentation.
“As I said to my lovely wife, each year, I said I know they have got to win it one year and I’ve got to be in their camp and it gives me a great feel to do it for Charlie Appleby and his team.
“Charlie and myself used to travel to Doncaster and Chester and all of the tracks up north in England, back when I was over there riding, and all of those miles meant this, winning the Melbourne Cup.
“I’m getting wet here but I don’t give a stuff because I’m enjoying winning my third Melbourne Cup.”
A Prince of Arran, who had qualified for the Cup only on Saturday when he won the Hotham Handicap on Derby Day, had been in the mix for a long time but could not match their finish, coming third.
Trainer Charlie Fellowes had not trained a winner of any Group race before the Hotham. He would have thought he was a chance to double up in the straight, but A Prince of Arran could not match the finish of the leading two.
An English-trained horse had never won the Melbourne Cup — the result gave England a 1-2-3.