The Emirates Melbourne Cup may still elude the British raiders but it is now in the hands of connections of the Irish-bred and former British-trained Fiorente, who held off a clutch of international challengers to land Australia’s most famous race by three-quarters of a length.
The 6/1 favourite was chased home by the evergreen globe-trotter Red Cadeaux, who in turn was followed by his fellow Newmarket resident, Mount Athos. It’s the second time the Ed Dunlop-trained Red Cadeaux has finished runner-up in the Melbourne Cup, having been beaten a nose by Dunaden in 2011, and Mount Athos’s performance gave Luca Cumani a third top-three finish in the race he so badly wants to win.
Willie Mullins’ game stayer Simenon took fourth and Marco Botti’s representative Dandino was fifth, making it a clean sweep of GB- and Irish-bred horses among the first five home. Two of only five Australian-breds in the 24-strong line-up – Caulfield Cup winner Fawkner and Ethiopia – were sixth and seventh, with Michael Owen’s homebred Brown Panther, who finished with lacerations to a foreleg, just behind them in eighth.
The winner was trained and ridden by two icons of the Australian turf. For Sydney-based trainer Gai Waterhouse, the daughter of legendary trainer Tommy Smith, this was a first Melbourne Cup victory. When reminded that he father won the race twice, she instantly replied, “Well I’d better win another one then.”
Jockey Damien Oliver, however, was winning the world’s most famous staying contest for the third time. His most recent previous success came in 2002 aboard Dermot Weld’s Media Puzzle just days after Oliver lost his jockey brother Jason following a fatal fall during a barrier trial. Oliver has only recently returned to race-riding following a 10-month suspension for betting on a rival horse in a race in which he was engaged back in 2010.
Fiorente, a son of Monsun from the family of Islington and Greek Dance, was bred by Ballymacoll Stud, for whom he started his racing career under the guidance of Sir Michael Stoute.
The highlight of his days in the UK came at last year’s July meeting in Newmarket when he won the Group 2 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes. The beautiful dark brown colt caught the eye of Waterhouse, who was present that day and who subsequently engineered a private sale. His first start in Australia, ambitiously, was in last year’s Melbourne Cup but he proved then that he would be a force to be reckoned with in future runnings when finishing second, just a length behind fellow former British campaigner, Green Moon.