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Melbourne Cup hero ‘Counter’ targets Dubai Gold Cup

J A McGrath

Cross Counter is set to make his seasonal reappearance in the stayers’ feature, the G2 Dubai Gold Cup, on the rich Dubai World Cup card at Meydan on Saturday, 30 March.

The brilliant winner of the G1 Melbourne Cup at Flemington on Tuesday, 6 November, has thrived since his epic performance in coming from second last on the home turn to win Australia’s iconic ‘two miler.’

Speaking in Dubai today, trainer Charlie Appleby said: “Cross Counter has come back from Melbourne stronger and brighter than ever, and he has put on 25 kilos in body weight. He looks great.

“After discussing his program with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, we have pencilled in the Dubai Gold Cup as a starting point for 2019, and we will see where that takes us.

“It will be an opportunity for His Highness to see Cross Counter on the big night, and also for Godolphin fans in Dubai to give the horse the ‘home town’ welcome he deserves,” the trainer added.

Cross Counter, a gelded son of Darley stallion Teofilo, has won five of his eight starts — he has only once finished out of the first two.

Appleby again has a Melbourne campaign in mind for the four-year-old later in the year, although he is fully aware that the next visit to Australia will be very different.

“A defence of his Melbourne Cup crown is an obvious long-range target but we know he will be getting a lot more weight this time,” he said.

Appleby also outlined plans for his other star four-year-olds this season.

Old Persian, who gave Cross Counter 3lbs and a head beating in the G2 Great Voltigeur Stakes at York last August, is to be aimed at the G1 Sheema Classic on World Cup night, with the G2 City Of Gold nominated for his prep run.

Brundtland, the G2 Prix Niel winner at Longchamp, is likely to join Cross Counter in the two-mile Dubai Gold Cup, while as previously reported, Loxley is to run in the G1 Jebel Hatta prior to his main target, the nine-furlong G1 Dubai Turf.

Discussing his sprinters, Appleby confirmed his earlier announcement that Blue Point will go for the Meydan Sprint en route to the G1 Al Quoz Sprint.