Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 19 October 2019

Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter leads the charge for Godolphin in the Irish St Leger

Pinatubo and Musis Amica also aiming for Group 1 wins at the Curragh and Longchamp, respectively

Cross Counter, ridden by Kerrin McEvoy, wins the Melbourne Cup for Godolphin in November. Getty
Cross Counter, ridden by Kerrin McEvoy, wins the Melbourne Cup for Godolphin in November. Getty

Godolphin are aiming for Group 1 successes across two venues – in Ireland and France – on Sunday.

Cross Counter, the Melbourne Cup winner, carries their hopes in the Irish St Leger while Pinatubo bids to stretch his unbeaten run to five in the Vincent O'Brien National Stakes on Day 2 of the Irish Champions weekend at the Curragh.

Across the channel at the Longchamp Racecourse, is the other Godolphin runner Musis Amica gunning for the Prix Vermeille.

Cross Counter ran thrice after becoming the first horse to win the Melbourne Cup in the silks of the Godolphin and drops in distance for the first time in four starts in the Irish St Leger.

“Cross Counter has been ultra-consistent this season and we are not concerned with the drop back in trip,” the Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby said to godolphin.com.

“He is not short of pace and broke the track record over a mile and a half around Goodwood last year.

“If he can reproduce the level of form he has shown so far this season, he will be a major player.”

After becoming the first English-trained horse to win the Melbourne Cup last November, Cross Counter went on to win the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup on the Dubai World Cup night at Meydan on March.

He was fourth to Stradivarius in the Group 1 Gold Cup over two and a half miles at Royal Ascot in June and behind the same horse in the two-mile Group 1 Goodwood Cup at the end of July.

Cross Counter faces nine rivals in the Irish St Leger, including the last two winners of the English St Leger – Kew Gardens and Capri – both trained by Aidan O’Brien.

Pinatubo arrives on the back of four wins to step up to Group 1 level following a superb five-length win in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes over seven furlongs at Goodwood in his last start in July.

“Pinatubo’s form is faultless and we have been aiming him at this race since he won impressively at Goodwood on his latest start,” said Appleby.

“He has been very straightforward at home and we have been pleased with his preparation.

“He is an exciting colt and we are looking forward to seeing him step up to Group 1 company. I feel that they all have him to beat.”

William Buick is atop both Cross Counter and Pinatubo.

Musis Amica looks to put a rare below-par effort behind her as she steps up to a mile-and-a-half for the first time in the Prix Vermeille.

“Musis Amica ran significantly below what was expected of her last time out and Andre Fabre [trainer] has drawn a line through that performance,” said Godolphin’s Lisa-Jane Graffard

“It makes it very hard to be confident about her chances but she looks to be in excellent form. We are hopeful that she can return to her best.”

Updated: September 14, 2019 05:25 PM

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