Cross Counter has produced a barnstorming last 400 metres to storm home to win the 2018 Melbourne Cup.
The English stayer has delivered the Godolphin stable its first Melbourne Cup after 26 years of chasing a win in the famous race at Flemington.
The win was marred by the sight of The Cliffsofmoher breaking down before the finishing post in the early going. It suffered a fractured right shoulder and had to be destroyed.
The loss of another horse in Australia’s most watched race is sure to intensify the debate around the issue of animal welfare in thoroughbred horse racing.
British-bred stayer Red Cadeaux was euthanised when it suffered a break in the left foreleg in the final stage of the 2015 Melbourne Cup.
The win for Cross Counter was jockey Kerrin McEvoy’s third Melbourne Cup success.
McEvoy said it was a thrill to be able to deliver Godolphin its first Melbourne Cup.
“I was lucky to team up with Charlie again [trainer Charlie Appleby] and get on this three-year-old and to repay a bit of the faith Sheik Mohammed has shown in me.
“They [Godolphin] were going to win it one year, and I wanted to be in their camp, and we were in their camp this year,” McEvoy said.
Godolphin is a large, global horse racing and breeding operation, founded by Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai.
The cup-winning jockey was scheduled to ride Youngstar but decided that Cross Counter was his preferred mount. McEvoy admitted after the race it was a difficult decision.
“It was tough. She [Youngstar] is a great mare in her own right and my gut was telling me this colt [Cross Counter] could do something. I must admit that when it rained, I was worried.”
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It continues a huge spring for McEvoy, who was on board Redzel when it won The Everest in Sydney a fortnight ago.
The track was rated soft for the race, upgraded from heavy after an early morning deluge that blanketed Melbourne had dissipated, giving the track time to drain.
The aptly named Runaway led them down the straight the first time and led them to the turn at 700 metres. It was reeled in as they hit the top of the home straight, as Marmelo staked a claim, and A Prince Of Arran joined it in a duel over the last 500 metres.
Then came McEvoy’s perfectly timed charge.