FORMER England striker Michael Owen’s dreams of Melbourne Cup glory with Brown Panther ended in disappointment this morning and British raider Red Cadeaux finished a gallant runner-up as home hope Fiorente dashed British hopes and kept the big prize in Australia.
Ed Dunlop’s Red Cadeaux had filled the runner-up spot in 2011 and once again found one too good in 6-1 shot Fiorente, who was giving legendary trainer Gai Waterhouse her first win in the Emirates-sponsored Group 1 feature at Flemington.
Another British raider, Ed Walker’s Ruscello, set the early gallop in the two-mile contest as the Tom Dascombe-trained Brown Panther was another to race prominently in the early stages for the European contingent.
Ruscello was still in front with six furlongs to run but the challengers were lining up in behind, with Red Cadeaux, who had to contend with a high draw, poised on the outside of the field turning for home.
Fiorente was tracking him though and the pair really started to battle with a furlong to run, with Damien Oliver launching Fiorente on the outside.
While Red Cadeaux responded to Gerald Mosse’s every urging, Fiorente just had too much in reserve and edged in front at the line to win by just under a length.
Luca Cumani’s Mount Athos ran a game race up the inside to finish third and hold off the Willie Mullins-trained Simenon while Marco Botti’s Dandino was noted finishing fast in fifth.
Waterhouse was thrilled to have added the Melbourne Cup to her list of big-race wins.
She said: “Everyone wants to win the majors and the Melbourne Cup is the biggest one of them all. It’s a burning desire so today was fantastic. His preparation was in Melbourne and I knew he was primed for the occasion. It’s the first time I’ve had the favourite in the 20 years I’ve trained.”
Former Stoute runner
Fiorente began life with Sir Michael Stoute and won the 2012 renewal of the Princess Of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket before being sold at the end of last term.
He also finished second to multiple Group 1 winner Nathaniel in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2011 and Waterhouse would be keen to return to that meeting with both Fiorente and Cup also-ran Tres Blue.
That runner was making his debut for the trainer after being handled by Henri-Alex Pantall in France until last month.
Waterhouse said: “I’d like to go (to Ascot). Both horses could easily go back to Europe. Tres Blue was just a bit new to it all today.”
Oliver was claiming his third Melbourne Cup win following Doriemus in 1995 and Media Puzzle in 2002. The victory was a particular highlight for the rider, who served a lengthy suspension after admitting backing a rival horse in a race in 2010.
He said: “It’s amazing, a dream come true. It’s really hard to believe.
“I’m so rapt right now that I’ve been part of Gai’s first win - she’s done so much for racing and it’s a great honour for me to help her bring up the first one. Gai was one of the first people to really get behind me when I came back and I can’t thank her enough for helping me get going again.”
Dunlop was thrilled with Red Cadeaux’s performance and hailed the efforts of Mosse.
He said: “The jockey has probably given as good a ride as he could without winning a Melbourne Cup.
“I’m so proud of the horse. He’s older and he’s carrying more weight and he’s probably run as well, if not better, than when he was second here before.
“You never know, he could still come back here next year, but we will certainly be looking at Japan and Hong Kong.”
Cumani is another to have come agonisingly close to a first British win with both Bauer and Purple Moon finishing second in 2008 and 2007 respectively.
Mount Athos was fifth in the race last year and Cumani was pleased with his effort, although he admitted his draw in stall 22 had hardly helped his chance.
He said: “He was in the right place and there were no excuses. he’s run a great race and finished off well.
“It’s hard to change the draw now, but I’ll certainly be back here next year if I’ve got the horse.”
Mullins was similarly satisfied with Simenon and could target the race again next year.
“There were no excuses, he was just beaten by a better horse on the day. He was there all the way round,” said the Irish handler.
“I’ve no problem coming back and maybe he might have some company.”
Ran a blinder
Jockey Richard Hughes added: “He ran a blinder. They kind of quickened a length on me but if I’d gone then it would have been a long way home.
“I’m very, very pleased with him.”
Botti felt the two-mile trip might have stretched Dandino’s stamina.
He said: “He stayed all right but Ryan (Moore, jockey) said he did get a little tired in the last furlong.
“He still ran very well and we could go to Hong Kong.”
Co-owners Michael Owen and Andrew Black reported that Brown Panther was struck into during the race, sustaining a cut to his leg.
Owen tweeted: “8th out of 24 pretty respectable. Proud of him. Just hope he is OK as he has been struck into during the race.
Black added: “Brown Panther sustained a nasty cut during the race. Fingers crossed he’ll be OK - being scanned later today.”
Dunaden, winner of the race in 2011, finished 11th and his trainer Mikel Delzangles will have to attend a stewards’ inquiry later this week after horse was given a treatment on raceday morning, which is against Australian rules.
Delzangles said: “With the weight he had, he was quite outpaced.”
Godolphin’s Royal Empire was never sighted and finished 14th while Ruscello paid for his early efforts and finished last.
The Alain de Royer-Dupre-trained Verema pulled up sharply in the early stages of the race after fracturing her right foreleg and had to be humanely destroyed.