Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 17 November 2018

'Cross' leads Melbourne sweep for English raiders

Cross Counter, with Kerrin McEvoy up, winning the Melbourne Cup at Flemington. Photo: Julian Smith/Reuters
Cross Counter, with Kerrin McEvoy up, winning the Melbourne Cup at Flemington. Photo: Julian Smith/Reuters

Michael Verney

The floodgates finally opened as Charlie Appleby's Cross Counter (8/1) became the first English-trained winner of the Melbourne Cup to lead home a 1-2-3 for the raiding party in front of 83,000 in Flemington.

The 158th running of the race that stops a nation didn't disappoint with Australian jockey Kerrin McEvoy - securing his third win in the €4.6 million showpiece - producing the lightly-weighted Cross Counter with a beautifully-timed run to prevail a tad cosily by a length.

A first Melbourne Cup victory for Godolphin capped off a stellar season for Appleby with just his third Melbourne Cup runner doing the business in the world's richest handicap.

"This is everybody's dream. It's a challenge that's been a long road. It's a very special day and one I will never forget. This year has been so incredible, winning a Derby (with Masar) and now this. I don't want it to end," a jubilant Appleby said.

"We've proved ourselves now. I learned from a couple of years ago it's tough backing up into a race like the Melbourne Cup - it's a different story. It doesn't matter where you go in the world, we're a young team and you've got to pick up what you feel is the right horse to bring down."

Hughie Morrison's Marmelo (11/1) and Charlie Fellowes' A Prince Of Arran (20/1) filled second and third but there was no luck for the Irish runners with Aidan O'Brien's Rostroprovich (20/1) finishing best in fifth under Wayne Lordan. 5/1 favourite Yucatan never landed a blow to come home 11th while a bad day for Ballydoyle was compounded when The Cliffsofmoher (20/1), last year's Irish Derby second, was put down after sustaining a fractured right shoulder early in the race.

McEvoy was fined €1,900 for excessive use of the whip on Cross Counter in an eventful race which also saw Hugh Bowman hit with a whopping 35-meeting suspension for his ride on runner-up Marmelo due to careless riding, excessive whip use and weighing in overweight.

Bowman - the regular jockey of superstar mare Winx - will miss the prized mount on Joseph O'Brien's Irish Derby hero Latrobe in the Mackinnon Stakes on Saturday as a result.

Elsewhere, Galway jockey Paddy Brennan steered God's Own to his second Haldon Gold Cup triumph yesterday as Tom George's classy chaser rolled back the years at Exeter.

Winner of Grade Two four years ago but without a victory since the 2016 Punchestown Festival, God's Own (7/2) took full advantage of a return to handicap company to edge out Philip Hobbs' 2/1 favourite Ozzie The Oscar.

The class of God's Own kicked in close home as he reeled in the front-running Ozzie The Oscar to score by half a length with Brennan proclaiming that "it's lovely when a plan comes off".

"I had a plan and it pretty much went to plan. I had to be asking him for big jumps a little earlier than I wanted but he's everything I love as he's just so tough," Brennan said.

George added: "He's been with us since he was four and this is probably the most emotional I've been as a trainer. He hasn't been easy and to get him back when things have gone wrong a bit is a fair achievement.

"He's still got the heart to do it and everything was right for him. I'm not sure what we do now, we'll just enjoy this and see what happens next."

Irish Independent

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