Melbourne Cup: Cross Counter first British-trained horse to win Australia's famous race

By Frank KeoghBBC Sport
Cross Counter wins the Melbourne Cup
Cross Counter crosses the finishing line first in the Melbourne Cup, which was first staged in 1861

Cross Counter has made history by becoming the first British-trained racehorse to win the Melbourne Cup.

Charlie Appleby saddled the 8-1 winner, ridden by Kerrin McEvoy, in the 158th running of Australia's famous race.

Cross Counter led home a 1-2-3 for British-trained runners from Marmelo and A Prince Of Arran.

The Cliffsofmoher, trained in Ireland by Aidan O'Brien, was put down after sustaining a fractured right shoulder early in the race.

Cross Counter is owned by Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin team, which also won the Derby at Epsom for the first time this year with the Appleby-trained Masar.

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

The Newmarket-based trainer said he had spoken to Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai, who had been trying to win the race for 30 years and was "over the moon" with the result.

"It's a challenge that's been a long road. It's a very special day and one I will never forget," said Appleby after the victory, which was watched by a crowd of 83,000 at Flemington Racecourse.

Winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy and trainer Charlie Appleby after Cross Counter's Melbourne Cup win
Jockey Kerrin McEvoy and trainer Charlie Appleby celebrate Cross Counter's win

Runway set the early pace on rain-softened ground in the world's richest two-mile handicap race worth A$7.3m (£4m) and Australian jockey McEvoy managed to avoid serious trouble at the rear of the field as The Cliffsofmoher, ridden by Ryan Moore, was injured.

McEvoy claimed his third Melbourne Cup after switching wide to launch his challenge in the straight, passing the Charlie Fellowes-trained A Prince Of Arran and Marmelo, representing Hughie Morrison.

"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).

Australian Hugh Bowman, the rider of runner-up Marmelo, was given a 35-meeting ban for careless riding, excessive whip use and weighing in overweight.

Five other jockeys, including McEvoy (A$3,000/£1,650), were fined for breaching the whip rules.

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

Melbourne Cup finishing order: 1 Cross Counter 8-1, 2 Marmelo 11-1, 3 A Prince Of Arran 20-1, 4 Finche 25-1 , 5 Rostropovich, 6 Youngstar, 7 Sir Charles Road, 8 Best Solution

9 Muntahaa, 10 Ventura Storm, 11 Yucatan, 12 Nakeeta, 13 Zacada, 14 Chestnut Coat, 15 Vengeur Masque, 16 Magic Circle

17 Who Shot Thebarman, 18 Sound Check, 19 Runaway, 20 Ace High, 21 Auvray, 22 Avilius, 23 Red Cardinal 24 The Cliffsofmoher (did not finish)

Kerrin McEvoy celebrates victory on Cross Counter
McEvoy salutes the crowd after his third Melbourne Cup victory

12,000 miles & years of trying - A landmark victory

The Melbourne Cup was first staged in 1861 but victory had always eluded British-trained hopefuls despite wins in recent years for runners from Ireland, France and Germany.

Seven of the 24-strong field came from Britain this time, with the horses kept in quarantine for a fortnight before making the 12,000-mile flight to Australia in an adapted jumbo jet.

Victory for Britain has edged closer with an increasing quantity and quality of contenders - there had been eight second-placed finishes before the three-year-old Cross Counter finally ended the drought.

"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.

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

There was to be no outrageous celebration for Marwan Koukash, former owner of the Salford Red Devils rugby league side.

Koukash, 59, had vowed to don a red thong if his horse Magic Circle triumphed, but the Chester Cup winner finished 16th.


BBC racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght

After years of frustration, British racing ended up dominating the 158th Cup, and after a season which has included an Epsom Derby success it's no major surprise it was the increasingly prolific axis of Godolphin and Charlie Appleby that pulled it off.

Cross Counter, who had to overcome a leg injury last month, was delivered from well back by the ever-reliable Kerrin McEvoy to grab a significant piece of flat racing history.

In a notable development, Europeans filled eight of the first 12 places.

British second places in the Melbourne Cup
Central Park1999
Give The Slip2001
Purple Moon2007
Crime Scene2009
Red Cadeaux2011, 2013, 2014