Eleven British horses who made a huge mark in Australia

The horse who ended the drought: Cross Counter (Kerrin McEvoy) on his victorious run in the Melbourne Cup last year, when he became the first British-trained winner of the great race. Photo: Kristen Manning

The first fleet of European horses has already touched down in Australia ready for the annual assault on the Melbourne Spring Carnival – and with 39 overseas horses entered for the Lexus Melbourne Cup, there seems no obvious reason why international dominance of the ‘race that stops a nation’ should not continue in 2019.

The hoodoo surrounding British-trained horses was ended in no uncertain terms last year, when Godolphin’s Cross Counter led home a 1-2-3 from Marmelo and Prince Of Arran, trained by Hughie Morrison and Charlie Fellowes respectively. 

All three feature again among this year’s entries for the famous Flemington two-miler, the field for which has long been densely populated by horses either trained – or formerly trained – in the Northern Hemisphere.

The export of high-class middle-distance horses and stayers to Australia has become a regular feature of recent years – a trend set to continue with the likes of Ebor winner Mustajeer, who has joined local trainer Kris Lees for his Cup campaign.

A multitude of well-known names – usually middle-distance types operating at least a notch below the top grade – have been sold to race down under in the last decade or so, resulting in a string of G1 victories for former British-trained horses, headed by the back-to-back Melbourne Cup successes of expatriate pair Green Moon and Fiorente in 2012 and 2013. 

While the ground-breaking victory of Vintage Crop for Ireland’s Dermot Weld in 1993 undoubtedly broke down the door for Europe, this wasn’t an entirely new phenomenon. Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, for example, won a Melbourne Cup in 1986 with the Derby fourth At Talaq after he’d been transferred from Tom Jones to Colin Hayes.

If the absence of a British-trained victory in the ‘Race that stops a nation’ became notorious, there has been no shortage of success elsewhere in other top Aussie contests, with the Godolphin operation often to the fore. Even before Cross Counter struck for Charlie Appleby – who has enjoyed notable success in Australia in recent seasons – dual Caulfield Cup winner Saeed Bin Suroor had saddled three Cup runners-up in Central Park, Give The Slip and Crime Scene.

What follows are ten (well, 11 actually, as we cheated a bit) horses who started their careers in Britain and left their mark in the modern era – either for their original British-based handlers or after being transferred or sold to race down under. There are plenty of others: what about the likes of December Draw, Glass Harmonium, Side Glance, Beaten Up, Manighar, Opinion, Sir John Hawkwood …?



ch h Kalaglow - Youthful
Claim to Aussie fame: won Melbourne Cup in 1994 during Horse of the Year campaign

Jeune was a handsome chestnut formerly trained in Britain, where he carried the green-and-yellow tartan colours of owner-breeder Sir Robin McAlpine for four seasons with Geoff Wragg, during which his five victories included a Royal Ascot success in the Hardwicke Stakes. Bought by Sheikh Hamdan after McAlpine’s death, he was sent Down Under to the youthful David Hayes for what turned into a stellar 1994-95 campaign in the Shadwell colours featuring four G1 victories. After winning the Underwood Stakes, he was second in both the Caulfield Cup and Mackinnon Stakes before reversing Caulfield form with the favourite Paris Lane for a two-length victory in the Melbourne Cup.

Taufan’s Melody

B g Taufan - Glorious Fate
Claim to Aussie fame: won Caulfield Cup (1998)

You could hardly have located a more unlikely suspect to open Britain’s account at the Spring Carnival. A cheaply bought gelding representing a syndicate of QE2 cruise-liner employees, Taufan’s Melody was capable of a decent effort in valuable middle-distance handicaps but there was still little to suggest the 7-year-old would suddenly be winning a Caulfield Cup on the other side of the world when he went to Melbourne in 1998 for Lady Anne Herries, the wife of cricketing legend Colin Cowdrey. 

Perhaps that’s why he was sent off 70/1 on the local tote before a short neck victory mired in controversy when he interfered with subsequent Melbourne Cup hero Jezabeel in the straight under a whip-cracking drive from his rider, Ray Cochrane. Amid howls of protest from the locals, he was allowed to keep the race in the stewards’ room – despite Cochrane being banned for two months and copping a A$20,000 fine for his trouble.


Gr h Halling - Dali’s Grey
Claim to Aussie fame: won Geelong Cup and runner-up in Melbourne Cup (2008)

The 2008 Melbourne Cup has gone down in racing folklore as the 12th and final victory in the race for the legendary ‘Cups King’ Bart Cummings – but a historic result could hardly have been any closer, as he edged out Bauer in agonising circumstances for the latter’s trainer, Luca Cumani, who had suffered a similar fate 12 months earlier with half-length runner-up Purple Moon. So tight was the photo that Bauer, who had already won the G3 Geelong Cup, stopped the clock one-hundredth of a second faster than the winner owing to the positioning of the electronic timing chip in the saddle cloth. Winner Viewed’s nostril was in front where it matters. Bauer was a listed winner at home before Australian-based OTI Racing bought into the Aston House Stud representative before the start of his 5-year-old campaign with Melbourne in mind.

Kingdom Of Fife

b g Kingmambo - Fairy Godmother
Claim to Aussie fame: won Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2012)

Bred by the Queen, Kingdom Of Fife was a high-level middle-distance handicapper for Sir Michael Stoute in England, where he carried the royal silks to victory in a couple of races at Sandown and the historic Zetland Gold Cup at Redcar. However, he never really lived up to expectations, failing to cut the mustard in minor Pattern company and getting sold for just 60,000gns at the Tattersalls Horses-in-Training Sales at the end of his 4-year-old campaign.

What followed was an extraordinary turnaround for his new owners after he joined Winx’s trainer, Chris Waller, in Sydney. Known as ‘My Kingdom Of Fife’ down under, he was a shock 150/1 winner of a G3 handicap at Randwick in April 2011 before following up a fortnight later in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Sydney’s weight-for-age championship event. He was well fancied for the Cox Plate that autumn when his career was curtailed through injury.

Green Moon

b h Montjeu - Green Noon
Claim to Aussie fame: won Melbourne Cup (2012)

Originally owned by the Goldsmith family and trained by Harry Dunlop, Green Moon looked no more than a useful middle-distance performer in England, seemingly found out in Group races after completing a hat-trick at the beginning of his 3-year-old campaign with a listed victory at Newmarket. 

Purchased by Australian businessman Lloyd Williams and shipped to his private stable, Macedon Lodge, under the tutelage of trainer Rob Hickmott, the son of Montjeu quickly became a regular at the top level in Australia where, as a 5-year-old in 2012, he became the owner’s fourth Melbourne Cup winner, staying on bravely to hold fellow ex-Brit Fiorente by a length. In a long career that lasted until he was eight, Green Moon also won the G1 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington and finished runner-up in both the Caulfield Cup and Darley Australian Cup.

Red Cadeaux

ch g Cadeaux Genereux - Artisia
Claim to Aussie fame: three-time Melbourne Cup runner-up (2011, 2013, 2014)

Trained throughout his career in Newmarket by Ed Dunlop for Ronnie Arculli, this much loved (and much travelled) gelding never won the Melbourne Cup but nevertheless established a cult following in Australia by running in five consecutive editions. Beaten a pixel in the tightest of photo finishes by Dunaden on his first visit to Melbourne, he was eighth the following year before a pair of second-placed finishes behind Fiorente and Germany’s Protectionist.

A credit to everyone involved with him, Red Cadeaux won just shy of £5 million in prize-money altogether; his victories included a Yorkshire Cup and a Hong Kong Vase, while he was also second in the Dubai World Cup. He was put down following complications after surgery for a sesamoid fracture sustained injury in his last Melbourne Cup as a 9-year-old in 2015, when his jockey, Gerald Mosse, returned to the jockeys’ room in tears. As per his owner’s request, he was buried at Flemington.


br h Monsun - Desert Bloom
Claim to Aussie fame: won Melbourne Cup (2013)

The 2013 Melbourne Cup developed into a battle between the two previous runners-up as 6/1 favourite Fiorente, second to Green Moon 12 months previously, held off Red Cadeaux by three-quarters of a length. It was a famous victory, the 5-year-old becoming a first winner in Australia’s most celebrated race for the legendary Gai Waterhouse. “Fiorente was a dream come true for me,’’ she said. “I’d trained three second placegetters in the Melbourne Cup, it was the race I really wanted to win and this horse provided it for me.”

A Ballymacoll Stud homebred son of Monsun, he was originally a high-class middle-distance horse in England for Sir Michael Stoute, finishing second in both the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood as a 3-year-old and winning the G2 Princess of Wales’s Stakes at the July meeting the following season before being sold to Australia. With Waterhouse at the helm, he also landed a second G1 success in the Darley Australian Cup (beating old rival Green Moon) and was third in a Cox Plate.


B g Authorized - Debonair
Claim to Aussie fame: four-time G1 winner

As durable and consistent as they come, Hartnell was no slouch in the UK, where he won the Queen’s Vase for Mark Johnston before joining Godolphin’s Aussie team five years ago, since when he has added four G1s to a career total of ten Group-race wins – plus a litany of placed efforts, among them four runner-up efforts behind the mighty Winx, who beat him eight times altogether. They include second in the 2016 Cox Plate (guess who won?) and third in that year’s Melbourne Cup.

Hartnell’s G1 successes include the prestigious BMW (Tancred Stakes) at Rosehill over 1m4f as a 4yo and the CF Orr Stakes over 7f three years later. Not bad for a horse who won over 2m at Royal Ascot. He produced a career-best as a 7yo when breaking the mile track record at Randwick with a last-gasp win in the G1 Epsom Handicap in September last year – and he’s still going strong.

Best Solution and Benbatl

B c Kodiac - An Andalyya (Best Solution)
b c Dubawi - Nahrain (Benbatl)Claim to Aussie fame: High-profile displays at last year’s Melbourne Spring Carnival, including Caulfield Cup win for Best Solution

Cross Counter’s historic Melbourne Cup victory was reward for Godolphin’s concerted efforts in Australia in the last couple of decades. Saeed Bin Suroor also left his mark last year with quality performers Best Solution – the trainer’s second Caulfield Cup winner after All The Good in 2008 – and Benbatl. The Dubai Turf winner landed the G1 Ladbrokes (Caulfield) Stakes (short-heading Appleby’s Blair House) before chasing home Winx in the Cox Plate. Pat Cosgrave partnered both Suroor horses to their Melbourne victories.

Cross Counter

b g Teofilo - Waitress
Claim to Aussie fame: won Melbourne Cup (2018)

Eight seconds but no winners. That was the notorious record of British-trained horses at the Melbourne Cup before last year’s renewal. When it came, though, it was worth waiting for as Godolphin homebred Cross Counter ran out a ready winner under Kerrin McEvoy, passing at least 15 horses in the last couple of furlongs to lead a British 1-2-3. “You can’t realise the delight of winning this race,” said winning trainer Charlie Appleby. “It is known around the world as a seriously great race and to think we can bring it home to England is incredible. We have been trying very hard, but finally we have cracked it.” Appleby has been responsible for plenty more Aussie winners, including 2017 Sydney Cup victor Polarisation.

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