Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby reports Cross Counter back on track for the Lexus Melbourne Cup at Flemington after making a full recovery from a minor setback.
The Newmarket handler confirmed that the son of Teofilo, as short as 9-1 to lift the prestigious Group One prize on November 6, has returned to routine work after spending a short spell on the sidelines with a leg injury.
Having run out an emphatic winner of the Gordon Stakes on his penultimate start, the three-year-old found only stablemate Old Persian too strong on his most recent start in the Great Voltigeur at York in August.
Appleby said: “Cross Counter is back cantering away and he is back on track for the Melbourne Cup. He is due to do a piece of work on Saturday.
“He knocked himself and gave himself a cut so he had to have a couple of stitches but they have knitted together well.
“He has been back in exercise since Saturday and we are pleased with him. He missed those few days there but it probably didn’t do him any harm.”
Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby believes the best is yet to come from Wild Illusion as she chases a Group One hat-trick in the Maker’s Mark Filly and Mare Turf at the Breeders’ Cup.
The daughter of Dubawi will bid to back up top-level wins over a mile and a quarter in the Nassau at Goodwood and Prix de l’Opera at Paris-Longchamp last time when racing over a furlong further on November 3 at Churchill Downs in a race Appleby landed 12 months ago with the now retired Wuheida.
Appleby said: “The plan is to go out to America on Saturday morning with Wild Illusion, and she deserves to be there She has come out the race in France really well.
“Although she has campaigned well so far over the summer, going back to her two-year-old career, the autumn is when she comes into her own.
“She goes there in good order, and if she adapts to her surroundings she should be a player.
“The trip will be fine. The drop back to a mile and a quarter has seen the improvement – but this is over a mile three on a flat track with a couple of turns, so there are no concerns regarding that.”
The Newmarket handler also intends to run last-time-out Grade One winner La Pelosa in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, and Line Of Duty in the Juvenile Turf, on the opening day of the meeting 24 hours earlier.
The 43-year-old added: “Line Of Duty has come out of his Group Three at Chantilly well. He has gained plenty of experience, although this is a step up in class.
“We feel he has got the right sort of profile for the race, so we will head out there and see where we are.
“La Pelosa won a win-and-you’re-in race at Woodbine last time, so she will take her chance in the Juvenile Fillies’ Turf race. She has a similar profile to Line Of Duty.
“The only disappointing run she had was at Newmarket in the Duchess Of Cambridge when she nearly got knocked over – but up until then, she had been very consistent.”
“I feel with these races at this time of year, sometimes it is horses that have the experience like she has have a potential advantage.”
Godolphin‘s Benbatl will start from stall three as he clashes with superstar Winx in Saturday’s Cox Plate at Moonee Valley.
Saeed bin Suroor’s charge won the Group One Caulfield Stakes on his Australian debut on October 13 having already secured top-level successes in Dubai and Germany earlier in the year.
The 52-year-old Emirati told www.racing.com: “When he won in Dubai in March, the Group One Dubai Turf, he won it really well and that gave me the confidence to send him here.
“This year, physically, he looks a lot better. When he was two he was a little bit weak, it took him time to show, but I knew he was going to be something good.
“I looked after him, I didn’t want to rush him and then October time (last year) he started to show something, then I said I would keep him for this year.
“The last race for him in England was the Juddmonte and he was unlucky that day as the horse in behind him hit him and he had big cuts on both legs. He was really bleeding after the race and I think that is why he finished fifth.
“Bringing him here, he won one nicely but I don’t like to run the horse too quick.”
While Bin Suroor is full of hope, he is under no illusions as to the task Benbatl faces in taking on Winx, who comes into the race on the back of 28 successive victories and will be seeking a fourth Cox Plate win on the bounce.
He added: “I have a lot of respect for the filly, she’s a superstar and the best in Australian history.”