The weekend’s feature race favourite Big Duke...
Every season the Melbourne Cup results produce a unique racing tale to go down in the history books and on Tuesday the 2017 edition of the ‘Race That Stops A Nation’ won by the Joseph O’Brien-trained Irish raider Rekindling was no different.
O’Brien is a 24-year-old former Irish jockey who became the youngster ever horseman to prepare a Melbourne Cup winner when his European three-year-old Rekindling ran down stablemate Johannes Vermeer prepared by his master father Aidan O’Brien in the Group 1 $6.25 million classic.
It was the first time a father and son ran the Melbourne Cup quinella and with the brave third from the 2015 runner-up Max Dynamite prepared by William Mullins, it was also an all-Irish trifecta.
Mullins also saddled-up Thomas Hobson, ridden by 18-year-old Ben Allen who was the last minute call-up following an earlier Melbourne Cup Day fall from Joao Moreira, and nine-year-old Wicklow Brave who ran sixth and 10th respectively.
With prize money in the Melbourne Cup paid to 10th place that took Mullins’ haul up to $700,000 with Max Dynamite securing $450,000 for third and the stablemates $125,000 apiece.
Having only been training since the start of last year, O’Brien meanwhile managed what his legendary father O’Brien has so far failed to do, preparing a champion of the world’s richest handicap race.
Rekindling became the first international Melbourne Cup winner to salute without an earlier lead-up run down under since Vintage Crop back in 1993.
Vintage Crop was the maiden Northern-hemisphere trained Melbourne Cup champion, prepared by Ireland’s Dermot K. Weld who also won with Media Puzzle (2002).
This year O’Brien Jnr. became only the second horseman from Ireland to take out the ‘Loving Trophy’, Rekindling ridden to victory by Corey Brown who celebrated his second success following that on Shocking back in 2009.
“I’ve won a Cup before but this time around it seems so much more surreal,” Brown said post-victory on Tuesday.
“I was just happy to get a ride in the Melbourne Cup.
“I target the light-weight rides and my manager and I had picked this one out on top the list and when I rang Mr Williams and asked for the ride he said he would get in contact the O’Brien stable to see what they had to say.
“I had never ridden for the O’Brien stable so I was tickled pink to get the ride.
“To Joseph O’Brien and Team Williams, I’m so grateful.”
Leviathan owner Lloyd Williams enjoyed an incredible sixth Melbourne Cup victory with Rekindling and is also the majority owner of second-placed Johannes Vermeer.
Rekindling races in Australia as a four-year-old, but in Europe is only a three-year-old making him the first of that younger age group to win the Melbourne Cup since Skipton (1941).
O’Brien outlined plans to head back overseas with both Rekindling and Johannes Vermeer with an eye on the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup (4014m) at Royal Ascot in the UK next June.
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