Whilst Australia’s premier racecourse might be more than 10,500 miles from York, operating in a different hemisphere; the links between the Knavesmire and Flemington are actually very close.
Not only do the teams at the two venues regularly share best practice but their signature contests are interwoven by the participants.
As recently as last year, three thoroughbreds graced both the Ebor and the Lexus Melbourne Cup; with the Charlie Fellowes trained, Prince of Arran, being placed second in “the race that stops the nation” after a top ten finish at York.
What’s more, in three of the last four renewals of the Lexus Melbourne Cup the Ebor winner has made the top ten.
Though the current Covid-19 crisis will add further to the challenge of doing the double in 2020, there have been a couple of near misses in recent times. Both Heartbreak City in 2016 and Purple Moon in 2007, headed down under as champions to find only one better in their bid for a famous double.
The two courses offer valuable prize money and are widely regarded as a proper test of the racehorse, so it is not easy to land a major prize at either never mind, both. That honour so nearly went the way of Rekindling, who gave Joseph O’Brien a first major success in the Cup of that November having been placed fourth in the Dante Stakes in the northern hemisphere in the May of 2017. A year later and Cross Counter gave the Godolphin operation their first victory at Flemington, however the Charlie Appleby trailblazer had only managed a close up second on the Knavesmire in the Great Voltigeur of that August.
It had been the opposite way around for Max Dynamite in 2015, when the Ricci family owned gelding partnered Frankie Dettori into the York Winner’s Enclosure in the Lonsdale Cup, to just miss out in Australia, behind Prince of Penzance.
In more than quarter of a century since Vintage Crop so memorably became the first European trained of Melbourne’s big race, only two other raiders have come home with the famous three-handled trophy. Whether any of this week’s champions will join that elite list, only time can tell, but York has certainly been an important part of the career of many who have already come close.
How the last decade of Ebor winners fared in the Lexus Melbourne Cup
||ran 14th in 2014
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For the York digital racecard, visit here