Charlie Appleby is keen to bring Cross Counter back to Melbourne for the Cup. Picture: Getty Images
Charlie Appleby is keen to bring Cross Counter back to Melbourne for the Cup. Picture: Getty Images

Appleby has Cup in crosshairs for Counter

CROSS Counter will likely be given the chance to defend his Melbourne Cup crown after finishing a close third to superstar stayer Stradivarius in the Group 1 Goodwood Cup.

Last year's Flemington hero was beaten just under two lengths as Stradivarius snared his third successive Goodwood Cup (3219m) - and eighth win in a row - after holding off Dee Ex Bee.

Charlie Appleby confirmed Cross Counter will almost certainly return to Australia in a bid to join a select group of horses to have won the Melbourne Cup more than once.

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"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," Appleby said.

"We will see how Cross Counter comes out of this race and we might take in the Irish St Leger (at the Curragh on 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 (51kg) when winning last year's Melbourne Cup.

"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."

Archer (1861-62), Peter Pan (1932, '34), Rain Lover (1968-69), Think Big (1974-75) and Makybe Diva (2003, '04, '05) are the only multiple winners of the Melbourne Cup.