Melbourne Cup: Cross Counter first British-trained horse to wins Australia's famous race

Cross Counter wins the Melbourne Cup

Cross Counter has made history by becoming the first British-trained racehorse to win the Melbourne Cup.

Charlie Appleby saddled the winner, ridden by Kerrin McEvoy, in the 158th running of Australia’s famous race.

Cross Counter led home a 1-2-3 for British-trained runners from Marmelo and A Prince Of Arran.

The Cliffsofmoher, trained in Ireland by Aidan O’Brien, suffered a fatal injury when breaking down early in the race.

Cross Counter is owned by Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin team, which also won the Derby at Epsom for the first time this year with the Appleby-trained Masar.

“This is everybody’s dream. This year has been so incredible, winning a Derby and now this. I don’t want it to end,” said Appleby.

The Newmarket-based trainer said he had spoken to Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai, who had been trying to win the race for 20 years and was “over the moon” with the result.

“It’s a challenge that’s been a long road. It’s a very special day and one I will never forget,” said Appleby after the victory watched by a crowd of about 100,000 at Flemington Racecourse.

Winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy and trainer Charlie Appleby after Cross Counter's Melbourne Cup win

Runway set the early pace on rain-softened ground in the world’s richest two-mile handicap race worth A$ 7.3m (£4m) and Australian jockey McEvoy managed to avoid serious trouble at the rear of the field as The Cliffsofmoher, ridden by Ryan Moore, was injured.

McEvoy claimed his third Melbourne Cup after switching wide to launch his challenge in the straight, passing the Charlie Fellowes-trained A Prince Of Arran and edging out the fast-finishing Marmelo, representing Hughie Morrison.

“I thought, mate, is this happening again?” said the ecstatic 38-year-old jockey from Streaky Bay, who also won on Brew (2000) and Almandin (2016).

Finche in fourth was the best of the Australian challengers, with O’Brien’s Rostropovich fifth.

The Cliffsofmoher was put down after sustaining a fractured right shoulder in the race.

A landmark victory

The Melbourne Cup was first staged in 1861 and victory had eluded British-trained hopefuls despite victories in recent years for runners from Ireland, France and Germany.

Seven of the 24-strong field came from Britain this time, with the horses needing to be in quarantine for a fortnight before making the 12,000-mile flight to Australia in an adapted jumbo jet.

Victory has edged closer with an increasing quantity and quality of contenders – there had been eight second-placed finishes before Cross Counter finally ended the drought.

“This is all down to Sheikh Mohammed. He’s the one that’s given us the encouragement to take the chances in what we do,” said Appleby.

This latest triumph in a stellar 2018 for Appleby also caps a remarkable turnaround for the Godolphin team, which was in crisis five years ago when he took over from Mahmood al Zarooni, the disgraced trainer who was banned for eight years after a doping scandal.

Analysis

BBC racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght

So after years of frustration, British racing ended up dominating the 158th Cup, and after a season which has included an Epsom Derby success it’s no major surprise that it was the increasingly prolific axis of Godolphin and Charlie Appleby that pulled it off.

Cross Counter, who had to overcome a leg injury last month, was delivered from well back by the ever-reliable Kerrin McEvoy to grab a significant piece of flat racing history.

Europeans filled eight of the first 12 places, but officials confirmed Ireland’s Cliffs Of Moher, runner-up in the 2017 Derby, suffered a fatal injury early in the race.

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BBC Sport – Sport

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