11/06/2007 12:00AM

Efficient wins Melbourne Cup

EmailEfficient denied British invader Purple Moon with a remarkable late run to land the spoils in the $4.7 million Melbourne Cup Handicap at Flemington on Tuesday.

A victory by the Luca Cumani-trained Purple Moon would have been the first for a British horse in the 147-year history of Australia's most famous race, but the Graeme Rogerson-trained Efficient, just 15th of 21 approaching the quarter pole, rallied widest of all under Michael Rodd to lead 50 yards from the line for a half-length triumph. It was another 2 1/2 lengths back to the Aidan O'Brien-trained Mahler in third, and the 2.80-1 hometown favorite Master O'Reilly came home a one-paced eighth, beaten 8 1/4 lengths.

A gelded New Zealand-bred 4-year-old by Zabeel, Efficient had not won since this same meeting last year when scoring for the fifth time in a row in the Group 1 Victoria Derby. Sent off at 20-1, he covered the two miles on good ground in 3:23.34, or 7.04 seconds off the track mark. Only ninth behind El Segundo in his Melbourne Cup prep in the 1 1/4-mile Cox Plate on Oct. 27, Efficient was giving his principal owner Lloyd Williams his third Cup victory.

The winner of the 1 3/4-mile Ebor Handicap at York in August, the 9-2 Purple Moon had prepped with a sixth-place finish behind Master O'Reilly in the 1 1/2-mile Caulfield Cup on Oct. 20. Cumani had him trained to the moment on Tuesday, and the gelded Galileo 4-year-old looked home free when he led approaching the eighth pole. But his rider, Damien Oliver, admitted afterwards that he had probably struck the front too early.