ED Dunlop knows better than anyone the anguish and ribbing that has gone with England’s failure to win the Melbourne Cup.
The Irish, Japanese, French and Germans had all won the great race, but all the UK had to show was a string of minor placings, a subject they have been reminded of each year they arrive for the Cup.
Dunlop’s grand warrior Red Cadeaux is the most notable, having run second three times, including the 2011 Cup where he was denied by the shortest margin in Cup history.
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Dunlop did not have a runner in Tuesday’s Cup, with his hope Red Verdon scratched on Saturday, but he very much enjoyed watching his countrymen not only break their drought in the race, but also fill the trifecta.
“One, two, three. About time!” Dunlop said.
“Great race. I saw Charlie Appleby before the race. He said it’s got no chance in the ground, but it dried out a lot.
“He’s a bit of a demi-god here, but he’s had a Breeders’ Cup winner on Friday and he’s a master of his trade. He’s doing amazingly well.”
Newmarket based Appleby won the Cup with Cross Counter, beating Hughie Morrison’s Marmelo and Charlie Fellowes’ A Prince Of Arran.
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Like last year’s winner Rekindling, Cross Counter is a Northern-hemisphere bred three-year-old and he came with arguably better form.
There were concerns when he missed several days’ work at Werribee after cutting his leg, but the astute Appleby assured everyone it would not make a difference to his Cup tilt.
Appleby’s Cup preparation started many months before that, making the decision to geld Cross Counter at an early age.
“He was slow to come to hand. He’s not a very robust horse, I felt gelding him at the start of his three-year-old career was what was needed,” Appleby said.
“I’m also a believer you can all have fancy horses to look at in the boxes with their undercarriage on, but to become a racehorse sometimes you have to make these decisions.
“With the result today, I feel very confident it was the right decision.”
Appleby shares a long term friendship with Kerrin McEvoy, the man he charged with the job of guiding Cross Counter home on Tuesday.
“I knew I had the right man. He had a blank canvas. We had mentioned about being closer to the pace, but when you have someone like Kerrin on, he makes those split second decisions and nine times out of 10 it’s right,” Appleby said.
“I knew travelling down the back what he was doing and more importantly coming into the turn he had plenty of horse underneath him.
“You’ve got to have the luck but Kerrin has the brain and astute mentality to find those gaps.”
Northern hemisphere bred three-year-olds have now won the past two Melbourne Cups, but Appleby stopped short of predicting they will continue to dominate.
“They are not easy to find. To find those three-year-olds that aren’t Classic potential and to put them aside and say you’re going to take them down to run in a Melbourne Cup is a big ask,” he said. “You’ve probably only got one or two horses like that so you have to find which one you think is right.”
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