Cross Counter wins Australia’s Melbourne Cup
British raider Cross Counter won the coveted Aus$7.3 million (US$5.2 million) Melbourne Cup at Flemington on Tuesday to give the renowned Godolphin stable their maiden victory after 20 years of trying.
The four-year-old gelding handed jockey Kerrin McEvoy his third victory in the famous 3,200-metre (two mile) handicap race, with Charlie Appleby the first English trainer to claim the trophy.
Racing out of barrier 19, Cross Counter powered down the finishing straight to edge fellow British horses Marmelo and Prince of Arran to win Aus$4 million.
“I thought, mate is this happening again?,” said an ecstatic McEvoy.
“I’m just lucky I can ride light on these lovely stayers prepared unbelievably well by Godolphin and Charlie Appleby. And third Melbourne Cup, woo!” he exclaimed
It was the first win for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Godolphin, who have been trying to crack the “race that stops the nation” since first trying with Faithful Son in 1998.
“This is everybody’s dream. It’s sinking in now. This is all down to Sheikh Mohammed,” said Appleby.
“He’s the one that’s given us the encouragement to take the chances in what we do.
“I’m just delighted. What a ride.”
Fortunately for punters, flamboyant British billionaire Marwan Koukash’s seven-year-old gelding Magic Circle didn’t win despite being one of the favourites.
If it had, the former owner of the Salford Red Devils rugby league team had vowed to strip down to his lucky tie and skimpy underwear in celebration.
First staged in 1861, The Melbourne Cup has been run on the first Tuesday of November since 1876 and winning it instantly makes the horse a household name in Australia.
So important is the race that it is a public holiday in the state where it is held — Victoria — although it has not enjoyed its usual central focus during the annual spring carnival this year.
That’s because of increasing attention being given to the Sydney-run The Everest in mid-October. Now in its second year, it is world’s richest turf race and was won for a second straight time by Redzel, also ridden by McEvoy.
And there have also been the exploits of the world’s top-rated horse Winx, who smashed legendary sprinter Black Caviar’s Australian win record in August and then late last month clinched a record fourth Cox Plate and 29th victory in a row.
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