A cut leg foreleg almost derailed the Melbourne Cup fortunes of Cross Counter but trainer Charlie Appleby’s confidence grew after a track gallop at Werribee a week out from the race.
Cross Counter spent a week sidelined after a cut reduced the gelding to box rest and walking duties overcoming the hiccup.
“I was travelling back from somewhere when I heard about it and my first impression was ‘oh God’,” Appleby said.
“We spoke to the vet in the UK and he was straight on the phone to the guys here and everyone did a great job getting him back as quickly as they have.”
After watching video of Kerrin McEvoy galloping Cross Counter a week ago Appleby knew Sheikh Mohammed’s first Cup winner was on track.
“That piece of work cemented that the horse was well on track,” Appleby said.
“I popped the cheek pieces (winkers) on to make sure the horse travelled and Kerrin got a nice feel out of him, but more importantly I wanted the work to be good work so he would come forward for it.
“I was delighted what I saw and more so after I’d spoken to Kerrin.”
It’s been a stellar season for Appleby, landing his first Epsom Derby, recording a victory at the Breeders Cup meeting in Kentucky and then Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup.
His first trip to Australia was two years ago and he says he was lucky enough to win a few races.
He returned last year, with success, and for the 2018 spring carnival had an early victory with Jungle Cat at Group One level.
Appleby says he’s always learning, searching for the right horse to bring to Australia, confident Cross Counter fitted the bill.
“You need a horse that can stay and has gears,” Appleby said.
“I felt that’s what Cross Counter had and 24 hours later we know that’s what he has got.
“You can’t bring a dour stayer down here, it’s too good a race for that.
“We’ve brought our jumping stayers down here in the past thinking we can outstay everybody.
“They’re too slow and you need a class animal to win the Melbourne Cup and off the right weight.
“He ticked every box.”
Appleby said Cross Counter ate up after the race and his legs were clean, a good sign of no long lasting effects of the victory.
Cross Counter will fly out on Sunday and winter in Dubai.
“We’ll formulate a plan in the new year,” Appleby said.
“I’d strongly imagine he’ll be back here next year.”