Cross Counter has ended two decades of Melbourne Cup frustration for the powerful global stable Godolphin by winning Australia’s greatest horse race.
On a rain-affected track and ridden by Kerrin McEvoy for trainer Charlie Appleby, Cross Counter defeated Marmelo and A Prince Of Arran in an all-northern hemisphere finish.
One of the most influential racing operations in the world, the Sheikh Mohammed-backed Godolphin stable has been trying to win the Melbourne Cup since 1998.
Starting a $9 chance, Cross Counter settled in the second half of the field but producing a stirring finish to overhaul Marmelo ($12) who was initially being hailed the winner for Hugh Bowman.
McEvoy now has three Melbourne Cups after winning the race on Brew as an apprentice in 2000 and Almandin in 2016.
“I was back a bit further than what I wanted,” McEvoy said.
“I had to go my own way and we were full of running. I thought mate, is this happening again? And yeah look, I’m just lucky I can ride light on these lovely stayers prepared unbelievably well by Godolphin and Charlie Appleby.”
The race was marred by the Aidan O’Brien-trained The Cliffsofmoher breaking down with a reported fractured shoulder as the field passed the winning post the first time.
The horse was euthanised after the race.
Race-winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy was a stable rider for Godolphin before parting ways to ride freelance in 2014.
Two of his three Cup wins have come since that move.
Appleby said it was every trainer’s dream to win the Melbourne Cup.
“This is all down to Sheikh Mohammad. He’s the one that’s given us the encouragement to take the chances in what we do,” he said.
“We have campaigned over here the last three years now and have been competitive but we have always learnt each trip what horse we felt was going to be needed on the big day.”
At only his eighth start, Cross Counter also becomes the first English-trained horse to win with Britain ending its race hoodoo in style as the four-year-old beat Marmelo by a length.
A Prince Of Arran ($21) completed a clean-sweep for Britain, finishing another two lengths away third.
Finche was the first Australian-trained horse to finish with the recent Chris Waller import taking fourth.
Rostropovich was the best of Aidan O’Brien’s three runners in finishing fifth while his stablemate Yukatan wound up 11th as the $6 favourite.
Red Cardinal was the last horse across the line while The Cliffsofmoher failed to finish.
Clear weather for the Cup after wet morning
The race was run after more than 45mm of rain lashed Flemington on Tuesday.
Stewards had delayed the second and third races because of visibility concerns experienced in the first race.
“Geez it’s wet,” Mark Zahra, jockey of first winner of the day Bella Rosa, told Channel 7 after his win.
“I couldn’t see much, I was lucky I had an uninterrupted run.”
With the track declared soggy but safe, the Melbourne Cup went off without a hitch just after 3pm.