Green Moon (right) won the Melbourne Cup by a length on TuesdayPICTURE: Getty Images
Green Moon keeps Melbourne Cup at home
Report: Australia, Tuesday
Flemington: Emirates Melbourne Cup (Group 1) 2m, turf, 3yo+
AFTER a less-than-stellar performance at the Breeders' Cup, a strong-looking European team was also put in its place on Tuesday as Green Moon (Robert Hickmott/Brett Prebble) claimed a decisive victory in the Emirates Melbourne Cup.
Although the 19-1 shot started life based with Harry Dunlop in Britain, he now represents Australian connections - and it is the same story with runner-up Fiorente, who was beaten a length in the world's richest handicap. He was making his debut for Sydney-based Gai Waterhouse after leaving Sir Michael Stoute.
The Marco Botti-trained longshot Jakkalberry, an 80-1 chance, did best of the eight European-trained runners in coming a gallant third in the A$6 million (£3.9m) feature, a length and a quarter behind Fiorente.
Another Aussie, the bottomweight Kelinni, was fourth, but if there was a hard-luck story then it was the heavily fancied Mount Athos, who charged down the straight to claim fifth under Ryan Moore in a slowly run race where nothing could land a telling blow from off a moderate gallop.
Of the other visitors, last year's runner-up Red Cadeaux also met interference before finishing eighth, two places ahead of Mount Athos's stablemate My Quest For Peace.
The French-trained former winners Americain and Dunaden were 11th and 14th respectively, with Godolphin's Cavalryman never a factor under Frankie Dettori in 12th. Galileo's Choice, bidding to become a third Cup winner for Dermot Weld, was a bitter disappointment, fading down the field after racing forwardly to take 20th of the 24 runners.
Fiorente's Gai Waterhouse-trained stablemate Glencadam Gold was allowed to dictate a leisurely gallop, only ceding the advantage a furlong where Green Moon, never worse than seventh, claimed the race under Hong Kong-based Brett Prebble.
"He was never going to get beat," said the rider, interviewed from the saddle straight after the race.
"It's the pinnacle of racing in Australia. I've had some great highs here, but you don't get any higher than reaching the pinnacle. It's very emotional and it's going to last for a long time."
Nick Williams, son of Lloyd, did the post-race duties on behalf of the winning owner, acceptimg the cup from Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, who was in attendance with Prince Charles.
"It's another Melbourne Cup win for 'Team Williams'," said Nick Williams. "We've put a lot of money in and a hell of a lot of effort so to get this result is terrific."
Australian property developer Williams, who has an estimated net wealth of A$670m (£437m) according to Forbes Asia, had previously won with Just A Dash (1981), What A Nuisance (1985), and Efficient (2007).
Marco Botti: really, really thrilledPICTURE: Mark Cranham
Marco Botti was understandably delighted with third-placed Jakkalberry, who carries the colours of an Australian-based syndicate. "We are really, really thrilled," said the Newmarket trainer.
"The horse has run a very good race - especially because in an ideal world he would have wanted a faster pace. Colm [O'Donoghue] has ridden a great race saving ground on the rail - he was in perfect position all the way round and picked up well but it would have been good for us if they had gone a little bit quicker.
"I was very positive after the Caulfield Cup when things didn't pan out for us and I knew he would come on for that run. This has been a fantastic adventure and if we have a suitable horse, we will definitely be back again.
"He has an invitation for the Japan Cup and we will see about that; there is also Dubai next year."
O'Donoghue added: "We always thought he'd put up a big performance and he showed what a good horse he is today against possibly one of the best fields of all time."
Luca Cumani looked dejected after Mount Athos, who also received a bump from 2010 winner Americain, added another agonising Melbourne experience to notoriously narrow defeats with Purple Moon and Bauer.
"The race was run in a very strange way," said Cumani, who also saddled My Quest For Peace. "It was really slow which didn't suit our horses. We were probably a bit further back than was advisable given the race was run so slowly and he was very wide on the bend and got a bump.
"The race turned into a sprint and Mount Athos was flying down the straight. He passed ten horses in the final furlong but it was too late. By the time he got organised, he finished like a train."
Mount Athos may now target the Japan Cup, while stablemate My Quest For Peace may be routed to Hong Kong. "Today's race was totally inconclusive for Quest For Peace," added Cumani. "He isn't a sprinter."
Cumani was by no means alone in suggesting the slow pace had compromised his chances his chances. No horse had ever won the Melbourne Cup from gate 18 and Red Cadeaux never looked likely to buck that trend, although he too made good headway from the rear in the closing stages after meeting a bit of trouble in running.
"There was trouble at the 600 metres, which created a very bad backwash, then I copped another on the home turn," Rodd said, speaking to racingnetwork.com.au.
"Mount Athos copped it first then I ran up his backside. Mount Athos was pushed off the track and I had to skip over his heels. They just went too steady but he finished it off really well - he's a gutsy horse."
Americain's rider Damien Oliver said: "The slow pace was against him. They really outsprinted him with the big weight but he still ran well, I thought."
There was also no fairytale for Frankie Dettori on what could have been his final Group 1 ride as Godolphin's retained jockey as Cavalryman was another who raced well back and was nearest at the finish.
Last year's winner Dunaden raced close to last before making an ineffectual move in the straight. "Just the way the race went didn't work for our horse," said his owner Sheikh Fahad. "They were very slow which didn't suit him."
Craig Williams added that he "nearly fell off at the start. The slow pace, the big weight - he probably needs weight-for-age and a bit shorter distance now."
Dermot Weld was left wishing the forecast downpours had arrived in time for Galileo's Choice. "We had thunder and lightning before the race but no rain," he said. "If we'd had some rain he would have been in the first three."
Pat Smullen added: "We had a beautiful position, I was very happy with the first part of the race but when they quickened he didn't let down in the ground."