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Cross Counter's terrific Tuesday

He becomes first British-trained horse to win the Melbourne Cup

On a wet and dismal Tuesday when rain soaked Flemington and its well-dressed patrons, Cross Counter claimed a piece of history by becoming the first British-trained racehorse to win the Melbourne Cup.

But, once again, the great race was marred by the death of a horse. Cliffsofmoher broke down tragically in the early part of the 3,200m race and had to be euthanised.

Cliffsofmoher was trained by the great Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien.

Sad as it was, the story of the day was scripted by that courageous runner from the Godolphin stables of Dubai's Sheikh Mohammed.

Charlie Appleby prepared the winner while Kerrin McEvoy did the steering in the 158th running of Australia's famous race. For good measure, Cross Counter made it a 1-2-3 for British-trained runners, with Marmelo taking second and A Prince Of Arran staying on for a gallant third. As expected, Appleby was over the moon.

"This is everybody's dream. This year has been so incredible, winning a Derby with Masar and now this. I don't want it to end," he said.

The Newmarket-based trainer remined those who would listen that the victory was long overdue.

"Sheikh Mohammed has been trying to win this race for 20 years," he said. "That was a long time to wait. So it's a very special day. One we shall never forget."

In front of more than 100,000 racegoers dresed in their Cup finery on that public holiday in Melbourne, Runway set the early pace - kicking mud at the rest of the runners on rain-softened ground.

Early on there was drama but McEvoy managed to avoid serious trouble at the rear of the field as The Cliffsofmoher, ridden by Ryan Moore, broke down when fracturing his right shoulder.

An Australian jockey, McEvoy, kept his mount away from the pace set by the front-running pack and switched wide to launch his challenge when the field fanned out at the top of the stretch.

For a while, it was anybody's race but Cross Counter had the measure of the field and easily passed the Charlie Fellowes-trained A Prince Of Arran. He seemed home and hosed until challenged by the fast-finishing Marmelo.

"I thought, mate, is this happening again?" said the ecstatic 38-year-old jockey from Streaky Bay, who also won on Brew (2000) and Almandin (2016).

But, with the cheers of the crowd drowning all else, Cross Counter managed to starve off the challenge to win.

Finche, who finished in fourth place, was the best of the Australian challengers, with O'Brien's Rostropovich fifth.

"This is all down to Sheikh Mohammed. He's the one that's given us the encouragement to take the chances in what we do," said Appleby.

Cross Counter was a doubtful starter just a month ago when he sustained a leg injury. But he responded well to treatment and was declared fit to race.

This latest triumph in a stellar 2018 for Appleby also caps a remarkable turnaround for the Godolphin team, who were in crisis five years ago when he took over from Mahmood al Zarooni, the disgraced trainer who was banned for eight years after a doping scandal. - WIRE SERVICES

HORSE RACING