Cross Counter capped an “amazing” year for Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby as he became the first British-trained winner of Lexus Melbourne Cup at Flemington.
The three-year-old was delivered with a perfectly-timed run by Kerrin McEvoy to claim the Group One prize and lead home a famous one-two-three for the raiding party, with Hughie Morrison’s Marmelo a length back in second and the Charlie Fellowes-trained Prince Of Arran a further three lengths behind in third.
Cross Counter’s victory added another feather to Appleby’s cap with the trainer having sent out Masar to win the Derby at Epsom back in June in the blue silks of Godolphin.
The trainer said: “This is all down to Sheikh Mohammed, he’s the one that’s given us all the encouragement to take the chances in what we do internationally.
“When I saw him down the back, I thought he had to do a lot.
“And when he was making his run, I thought turning in that if he finds the gap then this horse has got the gears to pick up.”
Godolphin has hit the bar in the past with the likes of Give The Slip, Crime Scene and Central Park all having placed in the main event and Appleby himself is a previous visitor to Melbourne.
He told www.godolphin.com: “We’ve been competitive, but we’ve learnt more on each trip about what will make us more competitive. That’s what it’s all about, the learning curve.
“I’m just in a fortunate position to have the horses to make the call on which are the right ones to bring down here.
“This is huge for everybody. For me, of course this is the biggest thing along with the Derby. This year has just been one of those amazing years.”
Cross Counter secured his place in the record books as he became the first British-trained winner of the Lexus Melbourne Cup at Flemington.
Trained by Charlie Appleby and ridden by Kerrin McEvoy, Cross Counter swooped late to grab the Group One prize in the famous blue silks of owners Godolphin.
Fellow British runners Marmelo and Prince Of Arran secured the minor honours in a clean sweep for the raiding party.
Runaway set the early pace in the two-mile contest, with McEvoy content to sit towards the rear of the field and he had only a handful of horses behind him turning for home.
He had to switch wide to launch his challenge in the straight, with the Charlie Fellows-trained Prince Of Arran having set sail for home.
However, Cross Counter was flying in the final furlong and while Marmelo also tried to produce a winning sprint, he had no reply to McEvoy’s mount.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Rostropovich finished fifth, but fellow Ballydoyle inmate Cliffs Of Moher sadly broke down passing the post for the first time.
McEvoy said: “What a thrill – to do it for Sheikh Mohammed and Charlie Appleby. Obviously Godolphin has been a huge supporter of mine. Well done to Charlie and this little horse.
“I was back a little bit further than I wanted, I knew I was full of running and at the furlong I thought ‘is this happening again?’. I’m just lucky I can ride light and he’s been unbelievably well prepared by Charlie Appleby.”
Appleby has enjoyed a stellar year with Masar also winning the Derby at Epsom back in June.
He said: “It’s a very special day for us all.
“For me it’s obviously very special to be here, but for the team, it’s just fantastic. I’ve spoken to His Highness (Sheikh Mohammed) and he’s over the moon about this result – it’s a challenge that’s been a long road.
“I can’t thank everyone enough. It’s a day I will never forget. It’s been a very memorable day.”
Accelerate made trainer John Sadler’s first Breeders’ Cup victory a big one, winning the $6 million Classic at Churchill Downs on Saturday.
Sadler was 0-44 in Breeders’ Cup starts coming into the 1 1/4-mile showpiece of the $30 million festival, including a close call in the Mile earlier in the day at Louisville, Kentucky.
“Feels really good,” said Sadler, who admitted the constant questions about his Breeders’ Cup record had become “a point of irritation”.
Now, all that can be forgotten.
“We’ve got the big one,” he said. “So it’s a good day.”
Ridden by Joel Rosario, Accelerate showed some reluctance to enter the starting gate, but he broke cleanly and settled in as the Aidan O’Brien-trained Mendelssohn took the lead under Ryan Moore and blazed through a sizzling first quarter-mile.
Mendelssohn was still in front when they turned for home, but he couldn’t hold off the challenge of 5-2 favorite Accelerate, who won by a length from 28-1 shot Gunnevera.
Godolphin’s Thunder Snow, the Dubai World Cup winner, challenged late but finished third, 1 3/4 lengths back.