Northern Hemisphere three year old Cross Counter’s 2018 Melbourne Cup odds have shortened despite the lightly weighted English raider drawing a very wide gate at the barrier draw on Saturday.
The Charlie Appleby trained Cross Counter drew barrier nineteen in the final twenty-four horse field for the Group 1 $7.3m Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday.
Cross Counter was installed as an $11 chance at Ladbrokes.com.au after the Melbourne Cup field was released but has had plenty of support since and has firmed in to be the equal second favourite at $9 alongside of another English raider Magic Circle.
The Aidan O’Brien trained Irish stayer Yucatan also drew wide at barrier twenty-three but remains at the top of the market order at $6.
Two times Melbourne Cup winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy takes the mount on Cross Counter who only has to carry 51kg.
The English stayer, who is classed as a four year old in Australia, has some handy recent form and was a two times winner over 2400m at Ascot and Goodwood before his last start second in the Group 2 £170,000 Great Voltigeur Stakes (2385m) at York in England on August 22.
Appleby was a little disappointed that Cross Counter drew such a wide gate but has full confidence in McEvoy to handle the situation.
“It’s not ideal being so wide with so many runners, but there is nothing we can do about it,” Appleby said.
“We are fortunate in having one of the best and most experienced Cup jockeys in Kerrin, and we will be calling on all that experience on Tuesday. I will leave it in his hands.”
McEvoy’s first Melbourne Cup win came on the Mike Moroney trained Brew in 2000 and then he made it two Cup wins when he scored on the Robert Hickmott trained Almandin in 2016.
Cross Counter is one of three Melbourne Cup runners for the mighty Godolphin stable and the Saeed Bin Suroor trained Best Solution and James Cummings’ Avilius will carry the famous royal blue colours.
Avilius has drawn barrier eleven with Glyn Schofield in the saddle and is marked at $12 while Best Solution will carry the top weight of 57.5kg with Pat Cosgrave to ride again and the Caulfield Cup winner is listed as a $13 chance.