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Melbourne calling: Counter can confirm Cup claims

J A McGrath

Godolphin’s Cross Counter puts his G1 Melbourne Cup credentials on show when he faces eight rivals, including stablemate Old Persian, in a highly-competitive G2 Great Voltigeur Stakes on Wednesday at York, UK.

He comes to this traditional G1 St Leger trial lacking the right qualifications to run in the final Classic of the season — he is a gelding.

But Australia’s iconic two-mile handicap is calling as a likely target for the three-year-old son of Teofilo, particularly after he won the G2 Gordon Stakes at Goodwood in track record time.

“Cross Counter must have a great chance of winning the Voltigeur, though we respect plenty of others in a strong field,” trainer Charlie Appleby said.

“He showed his potential last start, and I feel he remains on an upward curve,” he added.

Old Persian won the G2 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, and then went to the Curragh just over a week later for the G1 Irish Derby, in which he finished sixth to Latrobe.

“Put a line through his last run,” Appleby advised. “Backing up was quick enough, but the tactics were not what we expected either, and he wasn’t suited,” he added.

A key runner is the Aidan O’Brien-trained Kew Gardens, who won the G1 Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp at his most recent outing. He, too, continues to improve.