The Dubai Gold Cup and the Melbourne Cup will again be high on the agenda in 2021 for Charlie Appleby’s Cross Counter.
The five-year-old became the first British-trained winner of the Melbourne Cup in 2018 – and added the Dubai Gold Cup to his big-race CV the following March.
Cross Counter ran just three times this year, finishing fifth in Saudi Arabia before returning to Britain to take third in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and in the Henry II Stakes at Sandown.
Appleby hopes his charge can bounce back to his best next season.
“Off the back of Twilight Payment winning the Melbourne Cup at the age of seven, hopefully there is still a bit of life left in Cross Counter,” he said.
“To win the Melbourne Cup as three-year-old is a tough gig to do. He went back and put up another good performance in the race last year (finished eighth), and I just felt this year during the summer he showed the signs of fatigue, so therefore we knocked his season on the head and gave him the rest of the summer off.
“He is out in Dubai getting some sunshine, and we will start his campaign there. I’d probably say the Dubai Gold Cup would be his main early-year aim.
“It’s hard for him to run in those handicaps with big weights like he did in that race in Saudi Arabia last year, so I’d think we will aim for the Dubai Gold Cup.
“If he can rekindle his form he will be competitive in that – then longer term, we might work back from a Melbourne Cup with him.”