Red Cadeaux was a heroic runner-up once again as British-trained horses filled two of the first three places in the Emirates Melbourne Cup, but best-laid plans to finally crack the great Flemington handicap must wait yet another year.
While the winner, Fiorente, used to be trained in Newmarket by Sir Michael Stoute and his trainer was born in Scotland, Gai Waterhouse is very much woven into the fabric of Australian racing and her first Cup success was a popular result Down Under.
As much as the nine-strong European challenge was reckoned to be the strongest ever assembled, in the end Fiorente was the most obvious candidate as he was runner-up on his debut for Waterhouse 12 months ago and went off favourite.
Ed Dunlop’s Red Cadeaux, beaten a nose in the 2011 Cup, had largely looked a shadow of his former self this season but again came alive on a scorching afternoon at the metropolitan track, bursting into the lead turning for home under Gerald Mosse and sticking his neck out as battle commenced.
Fiorente was starting to gather a head of steam himself under now three-time winner Damien Oliver and although the pair were tied together through the final furlong, he always seemed to have the edge and hit the line just under a length in front of Red Cadeaux.
Luca Cumani’s Mount Athos ran a huge race as jockey Craig Williams weaved his magic to make it to the inside from tricky stall 22, while Willie Mullins’ Irish hope Simenon held on for fourth and Ryan Moore snatched fifth on the Marco Botti-trained Dandino.
There was sadness as French filly Verema had to be put down after breaking her leg on the back straight and Michael Owen’s beloved Brown Panther, who had been prominent until fading to eighth, was struck into during the race but the injury was not found to be serious.
Dunlop said: “I was so disappointed with his last run in Ireland and I was calling this his ‘zimmer frame’ tour, but as soon as he gets on a plane he’s a different horse.
“It was as good a ride as you’ll get without winning the Melbourne Cup and he has run as well, if not better, than when he was second two years ago. I’m so proud of him.
“He’ll go to Japan and Hong Kong again, and maybe he could still come back next year.”
Of Brown Panther, Owen tweeted: “Scan has come back clear. Only superficial gash that requires stitches. We live to fight another day!”