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Cross Counter has won the 2018 Melbourne Cup ahead of Marmelo and A Prince Of Arran.
It was a phenomenal ride from Kerrin McEvoy, taking out his third Melbourne Cup with a faultless 3200-metre performance. He gave Cross Counter a fantastic push at the end to reel in and surpass surprise packet Marmelo, who finished second, at the post.
The Melbourne Cup was well paced for the most part with a couple of the pre-race favourites getting caught at the back and there was very little chance for them to reel it back in and find any sort of galloping room.
Unfortunately, The Cliffsofmoher pulled up early in the race with a broken shoulder and, according to Racing.com’s Shane Anderson, could not be saved.
Melbourne Cup 2018 result
1. Cross Counter
3. Prince Of Arran
The Melbourne Cup has arrived with a bumper 24-horse field in what has become one of, if not the, largest event on the Australian sporting calendar. Catch all the live race updates and highlights on The Roar from 3pm (AEDT).
While the Melbourne Cup has been surpassed in recent years a few times as one of the richest races on the planet, the historic 3200-metre dash is still recognised as one of the most valuable gems in the world of thoroughbred racing.
Nothing is more indicative of the international prestige ‘The Race That Stops The Nation’ holds than the number of overseas runners in the race; international horses make up nearly half the field, not including our adopted New Zealand runners.
Chief among those overseas contenders is the pre-race favourite, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Yucatan.
Despite copping a barrier draw out wide at gate 23, the Irish horse has remained in favour with the bookies, coming off an impressive winning run at Caulfield in the Herbert Power Stakes in his first run on Australian soil.
Most impressively, the win came from a similarly bleak wide barrier draw to the one he’ll be jumping from at Flemington today. That win came at 2400 metres, his max distance across a 13-race career that has yielded three wins, none of which have come at Group 1 level.
Best Solution will be hoping to buck the trend of Caulfield Cup winners struggling on the first Tuesday of November and become the first horse since Ethereal in 2001 to complete the famed Cup double.
Add a barrier six draw and two back-to-back Group 1 wins back in Europe before Caulfield and you have a real shot at sneaking past the eye of the heavy favourites for a Melbourne Cup win.
If you want to see owner Marwan Koukash strip down and “find a new wife”, then Magic Circle is one to follow. Despite a wider barrier draw than trainer Ian Williams would have been hoping, the gelding is coming off back-to-backs wins and looks tantalising as one of the few long-range specialists in the field.
The seven-year-old cruised home by six lengths in the 3800-metre Chester Cup, making his last three wins, and four of eight overall, coming from distances longer than the Melbourne Cup run that will await him today. He’s firmed towards outright favouritism with all the rain Flemington has copped this morning.
Muntahaa is another coming in hot off a last-start win, setting the fastest race winning time in 20 years for the Ebor Handicap to take it by over three lengths. The gelding is expected to settle at the back and with a few speed bumps in the past with sluggish finishes, he has the potential to get caught at the back with too much to do late.
However, some galloping room on the last turn could spell trouble for his rivals in the last 200 metres.
One of the more interesting cases of the 2017 Cup was French horse Marmelo, who had his hat very firmly in the ring as one of the top international contenders, only to fall apart on race day and end a disappointing ninth.
One year later, the big six-year-old carries similar form, but trainer Hughie Morrison left him out of Caulfield this year in fear of another lead-up race leaving his star horse unable to recover in time. There’s no reason why Marmelo can’t push for the win that many were anticipating last year.
The other two key runners to keep an eye or are Cross Counter and the legacy-riddled Avilius.
A last-start fourth in the Cox Plate for the latter was basically a place finish if you take out the unbeatable Winx from that equation. Before that came four wins on the trot in a stunning bit of early Spring form.
The issue for Avilius could be the distance, with very few previous runs coming close to the two-mile mark.
Cross Counter brings four wins and just one non-place finish to the table and will have the veteran experience of Kerrin Mcevoy in the saddle.
If you have a few spares coins in the back pocket and want to throw caution to the wind, the Iain Jardine-trained Nakeeta is currently sitting at three figures in most bookie markets as the furthest chance to take out the race.
Don’t be fooled by lack of any place finishes in the last 12 months though, with the European gelding having come home fifth in last year’s Melbourne Cup.
It’s a hard one to call, but my picks see Best Solution become just the 12th runner in history to complete the Cup double, closely followed by Magic Circle, a surprise run by the Cummins-trained Avilius and pre-race favourite Yucatan rounding out the top four.
1. Best Solution
2. Magic Circle
Race: Melbourne Cup
Time: 3pm (AEDT)
Distance: 3,200 metres
Track: Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne
Age: 3 and older
Class: Group 1
Purse: $7.3 million (AUS)