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Melbourne Cup stars to feature at Royal Ascot

Cross Counter won Australia’s greatest race in 2018, ridden by Sydney-based jockey Kerrin McEvoy, with Prince of Arran, partnered by Melbourne-based Kiwi Michael Walker, in third spot.

Cross Counter is bound for Royal Ascot.

Cross Counter is bound for Royal Ascot.

Fellowe’s gelding ran second last year – again partnered by Walker – when narrowly beaten by Vow and Declare, while Cross Counter, under a much bigger weight than the previous season, could only finish eighth under Godolphin’s retained rider William Buick.

Cross Counter has run only once since, when unplaced in a rich staying contest in Saudi Arabia at the end of January.

Prince of Arran was beaten in Hong Kong after his Melbourne Cup effort but finished in front of Cross Counter in the race in Saudi Arabia (he was third, his old rival fifth) and showed he was none the worse for his globetrotting, with an excellent third at Haydock Park when racing resumed in the UK in early June.

The pair will, however, have to show improved form to down the champion distance horse in Europe, Stradivarius, who will be bidding for a hat-trick in the Gold Cup.

Frankie Dettori will, as usual, ride with the six-year-old, which leading English handler John Gosden trains at Newmarket.

Stradivarius has been entered for the Melbourne Cup in the past – last year handicapper Greg Carpenter made him the original top weight – but he has never come to Australia.

Stradivarius, with jockey Frankie Dettori, gets the win at the Gold Cup last year.

Stradivarius, with jockey Frankie Dettori, gets the win at the Gold Cup last year. Credit:PA

Another horse with Australian connections will be in action earlier in the week when Addeybb, who landed a group 1 double in Sydney during The Championships in the autumn, lines up in the group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes over 2000m.

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Addeybb will again be ridden by Tom Marquand, who partnered him for trainer William Haggas in his two runs in Australia. Marquand came out to ride in NSW during the UK off-season and stayed until the end of April when the coronavirus forced the cancellation of UK racing.

The Hagga-trained horse beat Verry Elleegant from the Chris Waller yard in both his Sydney starts, rewarding Newmarket-based Haggas for his enterprise at a time when English racing was shutdown.

He is up against a classy field, headed by the Aidan O’Brien-trained Japan, a group 1 winner as a three-year-old, who finished fourth in Europe’s greatest race, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at his last start last October.

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