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Melbourne Cup target for Cross Counter after G1 Goodwood Cup third


Cross Counter produced another excellent staying effort when third behind Stradivarius and Dee Ex Bee in the G1 Goodwood Cup over two miles on day one of Glorious Goodwood, Tuesday, 30 July.

Last season’s G1 Melbourne Cup winner, trained by Charlie Appleby, settled in fifth initially before moving up to fourth after the first quarter-mile as Wells Farhh Go raced off into an uncontested lead. Cross Counter took closer order towards the outside of the eight runners after entering the straight and stayed on strongly under James Doyle to go to the front over a furlong out.

The four-year-old son of Teofilo was soon headed by Stradivarius, while Dee Ex Bee finished well - the first two home from the G1 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in June. He went down by two lengths in total.

Stradivarius gained a third successive Goodwood Cup victory, coming home a neck in front of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum’s Dee Ex Bee in 3m 29.11s on good ground.

Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby was pleased with Cross Counter’s performance: “I am pleased because, at the end of the day, when you go out there and try and beat Stradivarius you know you are punching high.

“Cross Counter has gone and run a very creditable race – when he travelled into contention from the three-furlong marker to the two, I thought we were in the right position to be able to serve it up to Stradivarius, but he is just too good.

“Someone standing next me said he wished the race was a furlong further – I replied that we tried four furlongs further at Ascot and we still couldn’t beat Stradivarius, who is a supreme Champion. It was a great race to watch and great for racing.”

Cross Counter won the G1 Melbourne Cup for Godolphin at Flemington in November as a three-year-old and will now attempt to carry off the race that stops Australia again.

The trainer said: “We always had it in the back of our minds that we could hopefully go back to the Melbourne Cup with him, and that is still firmly there.

“We will see how Cross Counter comes out of this race and we might take in the Irish St Leger (G1, 14f, the Curragh, September 15) before returning to Melbourne.

“You won’t see these class of stayers all over the world, so for Cross Counter to be mixing it with Stradivarius and Dee Ex Bee shows that he still holds his ability and his enthusiasm.

“He has strengthened this year. He was a well-handicapped horse when winning last year’s Melbourne Cup. It will be a stiffer task this year, but the way he won the race we know he handles all the conditions down there, so it is well worth going again.

“We don’t know if he will be joined by any others yet – we need to get the festival meetings out of the way first and then we will start to assemble a team.

“If he had won today, it would probably have been a different story, but he has still run a solid race and he has got a racing weight in the Melbourne Cup at the moment. We hope he will have a live shot again.”

James Doyle added: “Cross Counter has run a good race again.

“He stays well, but Stradivarius is too good, while Dee Ex Bee is a fair horse as well. The right three horses finished in the top three.”