Tragedy for O’Brien at Melbourne Cup; Ireland 2.0 taking shape

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Jockey Kerrin McEvoy and Godolphin CEO Hugh Anderson pour water from the trophies as they celebrate with Lexus CEO Scott Thompson and trainer Charlie Appleby in the mounting yard after winning the Melbourne Cup with Cross Counter. Photo: William West/Getty Images

Jockey Kerrin McEvoy and Godolphin CEO Hugh Anderson pour water from the trophies as they celebrate with Lexus CEO Scott Thompson and trainer Charlie Appleby in the mounting yard after winning the Melbourne Cup with Cross Counter. Photo: William West/Getty Images

It’s the race that stops a nation and, this morning, it stopped yet another horse in its tracks. This year’s running of the Melbourne Cup was very nearly postponed after a torrential storm soaked the Flemington Park course just hours before the big race but in the end it went ahead on what turned out to be a bad day for Ireland’s Aidan O’Brien. His four-year-old stallion Cliffsofmoher, ridden by Ryan Moore, pulled up after just 600m with a fractured shoulder and was shortly afterwards euthanised on the track. He becomes the sixth horse since 2013 to die in the €4.6m race. It was a disappointing day for O’Brien’s other charges as well with Rostropovich the best finisher in fifth as Cross Counter, with Kerrin McEvoy on board, became the first English horse ever to win the race.

On to rugby and Gerry Thornley writes in his column this morning that Joe Schmidt’s Ireland 2.0 is now really beginning to take shape ahead of next year’s World Cup although the next two weekends will show just where they are at. Ireland face Argentina this Saturday in what will be a much sterner test than the one provided by Italy in Chicago last weekend. It’s a test that Ireland’s Garry Ringrose is looking forward to after he spoke to the media at Carton House yesterday not long after the team’s return from Chicago. The Leinster man says it’s always nice to get a win no matter who you’re playing but he does acknowledge that things must now step up a notch if Ireland are really to kick into gear. One area where Schmidt has an abundance of riches is the second row with Tadhg Beirne the latest man to lay claim to a spot. His decision to return to Ireland and join Munster has been well and truly vindicated and he spoke after Saturday’s win about the nerves felt on his first start. “I was a little bit nervous going out there for my first start,” he said. “But we started well and to get over for the first try was nice on my behalf. It’s one of those where Jacob [Stockdale]set the tone by making that line break and we fed off that.”

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