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Cross Counter has Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in his sights

30 Mar 2019

Melbourne Cup winner tees up clash with Stradivarius after landing the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan.

Cross Counter returns after his Dubai Gold Cup success. Picture: Racingfotos.com

Cross Counter is on course to clash with Stradivarius in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot after making a winning return in the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan on Saturday.

The Charlie Appleby-trained four-year-old became the first British-trained horse in history to win Melbourne Cup last November and despite having been off the track since, he was the 7-4 favourite for his Dubai debut in the hands of William Buick.

The combination travelled powerfully in behind the pacesetters for much of the two-mile journey, but it clear he had a real fight on his hands when Ispolini – already a dual winner at this year’s Carnival – enjoyed a dream run up the rail under Brett Doyle rounding the home turn.

The pair settled down to fight it out and after a pulsating battle, it was Cross Counter who eventually came out on top by a length and a quarter.

Appleby said: “Obviously there was a little bit of pressure bringing the winner of a Melbourne Cup back from a break, but I’ve been very happy with all my team and I always felt whatever Cross Counter did tonight, there would be more improvement to come into the season.

“I see no reason why the Ascot Gold Cup won’t be on his agenda and I’m also delighted with Ispolini, who is also improving.”