MELBOURNE Cup hero Cross Counter got the better of thrilling duel with stablemate Ispolini to make a winning return in the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan.
Cross Counter became the first British-trained horse in history to win the Flemington showpiece 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 four-year-old 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.
Charlie Appleby’s Godolphin 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.
It's a 1-2 for @godolphin and Charlie Appleby in the Dubai Gold Cup as Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter gets the better of Ispolini @MeydanRacing. ??????#DubaiWorldCup #DWC19 pic.twitter.com/O4hBGjG9tY— Racing TV (@RacingTV) March 30, 2019
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 Gold Cup won’t be on his agenda and I’m also delighted with Ispolini, who is also improving.”