Newmarket-trained Cross Counter back down under to bid for back-to-back Melbourne Cup glory
After a series of near-misses, Newmarket-trained Cross Counter became the first British-trained winner of the Lexus Melbourne Cup at Flemington last year when storming home for Charlie Appleby and Godolphin.
And although Cross Counter has to carry 15lb more than last year, he is such a classy stayer that he can win the Lexus Melbourne Cup in consecutive years, says Racing Post's tipster Pricewise.
Cross Counter had the advantage of being a three-year-old when he won 12 months ago and therefore received weight from all of his rivals, while this time he's at the top of the racecard - so clearly his task is much more difficult.
However, after watching the 2018 Cup back, it's hard to underestimate how dominant he was as he didn't get the best ride and still took at least six lengths out of the whole field in the final couple of furlongs.
He hasn't quite shown the same level of form back in Europe this season, but he has been set some really tough tasks and I don't think he has been anywhere near his best. But he is back for more and was such an outstanding winner of the race last year that he should go well again, with a trip to Flemington likely to perk him up.
Trying to win the Gold Cup on the back of a long break over 2m4f on soft ground was a monumental task and he had a really hard race that day, which probably accounted for his slightly below-par effort at Goodwood.
The Irish St Leger is a throw-out given the messy nature of that race, and he has reportedly thrived once again since landing in Melbourne.
The all-out stamina wars in cup races in Europe don't really suit Cross Counter, who is a fast horse as we know from his course record-breaking display over 1m4f at Goodwood.