by DICK POWELL
Following international racing and having the experience of attending races around the world gives you a different perspective on how things are done.
Godolphin has had a spectacular season in 2018. “The Boys in Blue have” been winning races all over the world and before this week’s Melbourne Cup (G1) had an astounding 29 Group 1 wins. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum has been trying to win the “Race That Stops a Nation” for 30 years and has had some heart-breaking results. His older brother, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum, has won it twice.
This year, Godolphin entered three horses in their royal blue silks. Best Solution was the highweight of the race and Pat Cosgrave wore the blue cap. Avilius has spent the whole year in Australia with the red-hot James Cummings, son of 11-time “Cups King” Bart Cummings, and Glyn Schofield wore the white cap. CROSS COUNTER, a three-year-old in with only 112 pounds for Charlie Appleby, had Kerrin McEvoy aboard in the red cap.
Usually, the red cap Godolphin runner is the third-string runner and for a long time in the two-mile Melbourne Cup, it looked that way. Cross Counter looked washed out in the walking ring on a humid day that saw thunderstorms drop a ton of rain on the turf course which was downgraded to soft. In a roughly-run race where The Cliffsofmoher broke down after five furlongs, the field spread out across the track in the homestretch.
Moving best of all was Cross Counter, in the red cap, and he went from about 18th place in traffic to a clear run on the far outside. McEvoy had them measured and he surged to victory over Marmelo. A Prince of Arran, who had to win a Group 3 stakes race at Flemington on Saturday to even get an entry, finished third.
It was McEvoy’s third Melbourne Cup win, Godolphin’s first and their 30th Group/Grade 1 win of the year.
What happened after the race is what makes their racing so much different from ours. First, Marmelo came out of the gate and after one stride, tried to savage Avilius to his right. He will be placed on a warning list and will have to pass before he races again. Hugh Bowman, regular rider for Winx, survived that incident and rallied up the inside to almost win it with Marmelo. Not so fast.
The stewards have suspended him for 30 meetings (originally 41 but they decided that would be excessive) for a series of infractions. First, he violated the whip rule where a rider can only use it four times before the 100-meter mark and then cannot use it during consecutive strides. Throw in a careless riding violation and the fact that somehow, Bowman weighed a kilogram (2.2 pounds) more than his assigned weight after the race. In fact six riders, including the top three finishers, were all fined or suspended for violating the whip rule.
So, Bowman’s mount tries to savage the horse next to him coming out of the gate, caused interference heading to the top of the stretch, used the whip too much before the 100-meter mark, used it too much after the 100-meter mark and was run down in the final yards in the A$7.3 million race.
It’s truly a different world down there.