The drought was broken at Flemington this week.

And not just the one that saw more rain fall in one morning at Flemington than had been recorded in the previous two months to end what Melbourne-based Kiwi trainer Michael Moroney described as one of the driest springs he could remember.

With more than 50mm of rain leading to a downgrade of the Flemington track from a good 4 at scratching time in the morning to a heavy 8 after the first few races before a scorching afternoon sun saw the track upgraded to a slow 6, the scene was set for the A$7 million Melbourne Cup to unveil the best stayer.

While there were excuses from some of the beaten brigade, including connections of the favourite Yucatan, that the rain had ruined their chances, the win of Cross Counter was nothing short of spectacular.


This was from a horse yet to turn four in the northern hemisphere and having just the eighth start of his career.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's Godolphin racing operation had tried to win the Melbourne Cup for years - and failed.

English stayers had tried to win the Melbourne Cup for years - and failed.

Cross Counter came highly touted. This was a stayer with immense potential and his credentials for winning a Melbourne Cup were never in doubt.

But he had history against him. And then he cut a leg.

A disaster. Seven days light walking before he was able to resume his normal Cup trackwork.

Three days before the Cup, Charlie Appleby's assistant trainer Chris Connett tried to put a positive spin on it. It was like a freshen up, a break from the hard training, and Cross Counter's injury could actually work in his favour, Connett said.

That seemed optimistic. Horses just don't win Melbourne Cups after setbacks. Preparations are planned to the day.

This was a horse that didn't have residual fitness from recent racing. His last run had been at York in August, some 11 weeks between races.

The odds against a Cross Counter win in the Melbourne Cup seemed insurmountable, especially after Connett selected gate 19 with his lucky dip at the barrier draw function.

But the money kept coming. The smart money was relentless.

And so was the finishing drive from near last from Cross Counter as jockey Kerrin McEvoy guided him inside Kiwi hope Zacada on the bend on a path to Cup glory.

A third Cup win for McEvoy after Brew in 2000 and Almandin in 2016 but so significantly a first for Godolphin and a first for England.

In fact, the first three home were English, with Marmelo and A Prince Of Arran - ridden by Victoria-based Kiwi hoop Michael Walker - finishing into the minors.

As McEvoy said afterwards, it was inevitable that a Godolphin horse would eventually win the Cup, such is the influence it wields on international racing. And again it emphasises the global significance of the world's greatest 3200m race.

While that makes it more difficult for Kiwis to win, it also shows that it's not a forlorn prospect either. If a young horse having his eighth start in a Melbourne Cup after suffering such a setback can triumph, doesn't it stand to reason that it's just a matter of finding the right horse.

Cross Counter is by Teofilo, the same sire as Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman's Australian Derby winner Jon Snow, so it's not as if there's no access to the blood.

Charles Road went a brilliant race for seventh, hitting the front at the top of the straight to thrill his New Zealand connections before he was overrun by a wave of Brits.

But he's not a stayer in Mongolian Khan's class. Had that horse stayed sound, he would have started favourite in the 2015 Cup - with compelling claims as the winner - and had that happened, we'd be celebrating a New Zealand-trained Cup win of a lot more recency than Ethereal's in 2001 or - at a stretch - Efficient's in 2007.

That's the type of horse we need to find again. And that's the next drought that needs breaking.

• On the domestic front, Riccarton today hosts New Zealand's first Classic race of the season, the Al Basti Equiworld 2000 Guineas.

And it looks a race of some quality.

While the Baker-Forsman-trained Madison County could only manage third place in the group two James & Annie Sarten Memorial (1400m) at Te Rapa last start, his run was a quiet one, only asked to zip home the last 300m of the race.

The $2.90 TAB favourite comes up against four last-start winners that are on the next lines of betting in his unbeaten stablemate The Chosen One at $5.50, fellow unbeaten Cambridge three-year-old Dawn Patrol at $6, Sarten winner Sword Of Osman at $7 and Trentham winner Sir Nate at $13. Throw in Bit Lippy at $13 and Sarten runner-up Qiji Express at $15 and it should be quite a show at Riccarton at 3.40pm.