Cross Counter made history in November 2018 when becoming the first British-trained winner of the Melbourne Cup.
The first three home were all trained in Britain that rain-soaked day at Flemington Park, but it was Charlie Appleby’s colt who prevailed in the race that famously “stops a nation”.
He’s since shown himself to be more than just a handicapper, winning the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan in March before running fine races in defeat behind Stradivarius in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and Qatar Goodwood Cup.
Cross Counter was a keeping-on fourth at the Royal Meeting, beaten under two lengths, and then third at Goodwood, when he was beaten two lengths after nosing ahead a furlong from home before being pegged back.
“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,” Appleby said.
“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 will now attempt to win a second Melbourne Cup.
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 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.”
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.”