MELBOURNE: English stayer Cross Counter, ridden by Kerrin McEvoy, gave Dubai-based Godolphin stable its first Melbourne Cup with victory in Australia’s largest and most prestigious horse race on Tuesday.
It was only Cross Counter’s — a four-year-old bay gelding trained by Charlie Appleby and based at Newmarket, England — eighth start, but he had missed a top-two finish only once.
Marmelo was second and A Prince of Arran two lengths behind in third.
An English-trained horse had never won the Melbourne Cup, but Tuesday’s result gave England a 1-2-3 finish — Hughie Morrison’s Marmelo and Charlie Fellowes’ A Prince of Arran joining Appleby.
The winner stormed down from the outside in the final several hundred meters for a length victory. Cross Counter was third-last on the first turn
McEvoy and Cross Counter run past the winning post at Flemington race track.
“We were lucky to get through, said McEvoy, who won the Melbourne Cup for the third time. “What a field to do it in. They (Godolphin) have been striving to win this race for a long time.
“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.”
During the trophy presentation, rain which had affected the lead-up to the race again started to fall at Flemington.
“I’m getting wet here but I don’t give a stuff because I’m enjoying winning my third Melbourne Cup,” McEvoy said.
Appleby said the Melbourne Cup had been on his “bucket list for a long time.”
It was the 158th running of the 3,200-meter (two-mile) race and had a purse of $5.3 million.
The forecasted rain arrived early on the day of the Cup, with more than 50 millimeters (2 inches) falling in the hours leading up to the race.
Another Aidan O’Brien horse, Yucatan, had gone off as early favorite, but finished 11th.
Team Godolphin — Jockey Kerrin McEvoy (L), Godolphin CEO Hugh Anderson (C) and trainer Charlie Appleby (R) — hold the cup.
Magic Circle, a stayer which had won its last two starts by a combined margin of 12 lengths, was well-backed at 9-1 but finished 16th in the 24-horse field.
Japan-based Chestnut Coat, trained by Yoshito Yahagi, was 14th.
The race was marred, however, when the Aidan O’Brien-trained The Cliffsofmoher broke down at the winning post the first time around, breaking its right shoulder. The horse was euthanized after the race at Flemington.
The Cliffsofmoher was an Irish horse ridden by English jockey Ryan Moore.
“It is with sadness that we confirm that The Cliffsofmoher had to be humanely euthanized after sustaining a fractured right shoulder,” race track executive general manager Jamie Stier said. “The horse received immediate veterinary care, however it was unable to be saved due to the nature of the injury sustained.”
The RSPCA in Australia later tweeted that the horse was the sixth to die in the Melbourne Cup since 2013, and “highlights the very real risks to horses from racing.”